What Trump Said About Saddam Hussein Is Raising Eyebrows

July 6th 2016

Aimee Kuvadia

Donald Trump had some flattering words for former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, CNN reports.

At a campaign rally Tuesday night in Raleigh, North Carolina, the presumptive Republican nominee said:

"He was a bad guy -- really bad guy. But you know what? He did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn't read them the rights. They didn't talk. They were terrorists. Over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism."

Saddam Hussein

Trump didn't acknowledge that Iraq was listed as a state sponsor of terrorism during Hussein's reign — the Iraqi leader once used poison gas against 5,000 Iraqi Kurds to quash dissent. The GOP nominee has previously stated that the world would be "100% better" if dictators like Hussein and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi were still in power.

Jake Sullivan, a Hillary Clinton senior policy adviser, told The Associated Press that such comments "demonstrate how dangerous he would be as commander-in-chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks."

House Speaker Paul Ryan was also critical of Trump's praise of Hussein when asked about it on Fox News, according to CNN. About the Iraqi dictator, he said, "He was one of the 20th century's most evil people."

This is not the first time Trump has displayed admiration for ruthless dictators.

In March, he commented on Russia's Vladimir Putin, who endorsed Trump for president late last year: "Putin has been a very strong leader for Russia. I think he has been a lot stronger than our leader, that I can tell you."

In reference to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, he said: "You’ve gotta give him credit… he goes in. He takes over. He’s the boss. It’s incredible."

He has even gone so far as to praise the Chinese government's 1989 massacre of pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square. He said: "They were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength."