Donald Trump reversed his stance on U.S. military intervention in Libya on Sunday, saying he would have authorized “surgical” strikes to take out strongman Moammar Gaddafi — even though he’d previously said the world would be better with Gaddafi in power.
“I didn’t mind surgical. And I said surgical. You do a surgical shot and you take him out,” Trump said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
It was a notable change from the position he’d staked out at a Republican presidential debate in Texas in February.
“We would be so much better off if Gaddafi would be in charge right now,” Trump said then. He has also hit Clinton over the U.S. intervention in Libya in his stump speech.
It’s the second time Trump has reversed his position on Libya. In a 2011 video, Trump said that “on a humanitarian basis, immediately go into Libya, knock this guy out very quickly, very surgically, very effectively, and save the lives.”
On Sunday, he still sought to blame former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.
“I wasn’t for what happened. Look at the way — I mean look at with Benghazi and all of the problems that we’ve had. It was handled horribly,” he said.
He added: “I was never for strong intervention. I could have seen surgical where you take out Gaddafi and his group.”
While Trump has changed positions on how the United States should have handled Gaddafi, he’s now advocating a sharp escalation in the U.S. military’s role in Libya.
He asked at a rally in Fresno, California, two weeks ago why the United States isn’t “bombing the hell out of” ISIS in Libya.
“ISIS has the oil. And then you say if ISIS has the oil, why aren’t we blockading so they can’t sell it? Why aren’t we bombing the hell out of … ” Trump said, stopping short as he pivoted to slamming Obama as “grossly incompetent.”
He’s also made blasting Clinton’s foreign policy judgment a staple on the campaign trail.
“She doesn’t have the temperament to be president. She’s got bad judgment. She’s got horribly bad judgment,” Trump said two weeks ago in Anaheim. “If you look at the war in Iraq, if you look at what she did with Libya, which was a total catastrophe.”
Clinton, meanwhile, unleashed on Trump as ill fit to serve as commander in chief on Thursday in a high-profile speech.
“He’s not just unprepared — he’s temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility,” Clinton said.
This is pretty clearly a flip of a flip-flop.
Personal Vlog: Take him out – August, 22 2011
Trump said, “on a humanitarian basis, immediately go into Libya, knock this guy out very quickly, very surgically, very effectively, and save the lives.”
Republican Debate: Shouldn’t have taken him out – February, 25 2016
“We would be so much better off if Gaddafi would be in charge right now.”
Interview: Take him out – June 2016
“I didn’t mind surgical. And I said surgical. You do a surgical shot and you take him out.”
Trump’s flip-flip is at the 1:24 mark: