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Trump says Saddam Hussein a 'bad guy,' praises him for killing terrorists

By Martin Smith
Donald Trump's comments praising Saddam's handling of terrorists have been seized upon by his opponents. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Donald Trump's comments praising Saddam's handling of terrorists have been seized upon by his opponents. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

RALEIGH, N.C., July 6 (UPI) -- Donald Trump praised Saddam Hussein, telling supporters in North Carolina that the former Iraqi dictator was a "really bad guy" but noting that he was "so good" at killing terrorists.

The presumptive GOP nominee told a packed house in Raleigh that he admired the way Saddam dealt with terrorists.

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"Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. Right? 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 a terrorist, it was over," Trump said Tuesday night.

"Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism. You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq. It's like Harvard. OK? So sad."

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Trump, who previously supported the Iraq War before switching his position, said that the United States "shouldn't have destabilized" Iraq by seeking to remove Saddam.

During the dictator's time in power, Iraq was listed as a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department.

At the rally, Trump was joined by Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who some see as a potential running mate after the two met in May at Trump Tower in New York.

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After Trump made his comments, House Speaker Paul Ryan told Megan Kelly on Fox News that Saddam "was one of the 20th century's most evil people."

"He was up there. He committed mass genocide against his own people using chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein was a bad guy."

Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's campaign quickly seized on Trump's words and branded him unfit for office.

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"Donald Trump's praise for brutal strongmen seemingly knows no bounds," Senior Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement. "Trump's cavalier compliments for brutal dictators, and the twisted lessons he seems to have learned from their history, again demonstrate how dangerous he would be as commander-in-chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks."

This isn't the first time the billionaire businessman has spoken about Hussein and other dictators.

In an October interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, Trump said that the Middle East would be better off today if Moammar Gadhafi of Libya and Hussein were still in power.

"It's not even a contest," Trump told Meet the Press.

On another occasion, he told a rally in Franklin, Tenn., that despite Hussein's "vicious" rule in Iraq "there were no terrorists in Iraq" while he ruled.

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"You know what he used to do to terrorists?" Trump said to the Tennessee crowd. "A one-day trial and shoot him ... and the one-day trial usually lasted five minutes, right? There was no terrorism then."

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