Contradictions add up during Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump railed against President Barack Obama for failing to utter the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” He accused the foundation run by Bill and Hillary Clinton of corruption for accepting charitable contributions from Saudi Arabia and chastised first lady Michelle Obama for not covering her head during a visit to the Kingdom.
Now that he’s president, Trump has changed his tune.
Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, at the start of his first trip abroad as president, has produced a number of statements that run counter to the harsh, anti-Muslim rhetoric from his 2016 campaign. While many presidents adjust their commentary once they depart the campaign trail and travel abroad, Trump’s speech to Gulf Arab leaders featured a much softer tone than his large-scale rallies last year.
Here are the most glaring contradictions:
‘RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM’
THEN: Trump routinely railed against Obama and Democratic campaign rival Hillary Clinton for failing to use the specific phrase, “radical Islamic terrorism.” In an August 2016 speech, for example, Trump said Obama’s 2009 speech to the Muslim World in Egypt lacked “moral courage” and was replete in naivete. “Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country. Anyone who cannot condemn the hatred, oppression and violence of radical Islam lacks the moral clarity to serve as our president,” he said.
NOW: Trump called on Muslim leaders to address “the crisis of Islamic extremists” and referenced ‘’the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.” But he failed to the use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” in his major speech Sunday in front of more than 50 leaders of Arab and Muslim-majority countries.
THEN: Trump declared in a March 2016 interview with CNN that, “I think Islam hates us” adding that, “there’s a tremendous hatred there.” It was just one of a series of inflammatory statements about one of the world’s major religions that included a call to surveil mosques and a proposal to ban all foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
“Frankly, look, we’re having problems with the Muslims, and we’re having problems with Muslims coming into the country,” he told Fox Business Network last March after a series of attacks in Brussels.
“You need surveillance, you have to deal with the mosques whether we like it or not,” he added. “These attacks, they’re not done by Swedish people, that I can tell you.”
NOW: Trump struck a far less caustic tone in Sunday’s speech, expressing that “young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence, and innocent of hatred.”
He said, the biggest victims of terrorism are the “innocent people of Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations.”
THEN: Trump had harsh words for Saudi Arabia before his election. He accusing the kingdom of wanting “women as slaves and to kill gays” in a Face-book post and suggested they were being behind the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
“Who blew up the World Trade Center?” he asked in one Fox News appearance. “It wasn’t the Iraqis, it was Saudi – take at look at Saudi Arabia, open the documents,” he demanded.
NOW: Trump heaped praise on the Saudis on Sunday.
“I am honored to be received by such gracious hosts,” he said. “I have always heard about the splendor of your country and the kindness of your people, but words do not do justice to the grandeur of this sacred place.”
THEN: Trump lashed out at Michelle Obama in 2015 when she opted against wearing a headscarf on her visit to Saudi Arabia.
NOW: First lady Melania Trump and the president’s eldest daughter Ivanka showed off their locks, following in the footsteps, not only of Michelle Obama, but of female leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Melania even showed a little leg on day two, wearing a dress that ended just below the knees.