Donald Trump says the world would be a safer place with Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi still in power.
The Republican presidential candidate made the claim during an Oct. 25 interview on “State of the Union” with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“But you also recently said the Middle East would be better off with Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein and Assad in power,” Tapper said, seemingly prefacing a question.
“I didn’t say Assad,” Trump interrupted. “But we certainly have not gained anything.”
“I mean, look at Libya,” the billionaire real estate mogul continued. “Look at Iraq. Iraq used to be no terrorists. He [Hussein] would kill the terrorists immediately, which is like now it's the Harvard of terrorism.”
Trump said he wasn't calling Hussein a nice guy, but rather he was pointing out that Iraq was "a lot better" years ago than it is now.
“Right now, Iraq is a training ground for terrorists," he added. "Right now Libya, nobody even knows Libya, frankly there is no Iraq and there is no Libya. It's all broken up. They have no control. Nobody knows what's going on.”
“The world would be better off with Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi in power?” Tapper asked.
“One hundred percent,” Trump answered.
Trump’s assertions come amid news that he may be slipping in the polls.
His lead in Iowa — the first-in-the-nation caucus state — has fallen to only 19 percent support among likely caucus goers, according to a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll released Oct. 23. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson now leads in the state with 28 percent support, The Des Moines Register reports.
Trump, who has spent a good deal of his campaign attacking fellow candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, seemed to suggest in the interview with Tapper that he may well have to turn his sights to Carson in the coming weeks.
“[Bush is] a low-energy person,” he said. “By the way, Ben Carson is a very low-energy person. We need high-energy people. I think Ben Carson is a very low-energy person. Actually, I think Ben Carson is lower energy than Jeb, if you want to know the truth. We need strong energy.”
Trump also offered his explanation as to why Carson was leading in some Iowa polls and what that might mean for his campaign.
“The thing with Ben is he's got a very good PAC, and he's got people running his PAC, and in my opinion, he's got people all over Iowa from his PAC, and they are running — Ben doesn't even go to Iowa that much,” he said. “And he's doing well in Iowa? I did talk about Jeb because I thought Jeb was going to be the front-runner. Obviously, he's no longer the front-runner. I probably won't talk about him so much anymore.”