Trump Defends Decision to Kill ‘No. 1 Terrorist’ Soleimani amid Democrat Criticism
As President Donald Trump rallied supporters Tuesday night by defending his decision to kill top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, the Democrats vying to replace him used their final debate before primary voting begins to argue that doing so made the country less safe.
Trump defended his decision to order the strike that killed Soleimani, whom he labeled the “world’s No. 1 terrorist.” That move came under intense criticism from Democrats who said the president should have consulted Congress and raised questions about whether it really prevented an imminent attack, as some Trump administration officials have said.
“The Democrats are outraged that we killed this terrorist monster, even though this monster was behind hundreds and hundreds of deaths,” Trump told the crowd in downtown Milwaukee.
He added that Soleimani was “the king of the roadside bomb. Great percentages of people don't have legs right now and arms” because of him.
The president also said Democrats “are doing everything possible to disparage what we did with the hit on this monster” and that the other party “should be outraged by Soleimani's evil crimes, not the decision to end his wretched life.”
He accused Democrats of wasting America's time with “demented hoaxes" and “witch hunts" while “we're creating jobs and killing terrorists."
Moments later and hundreds of miles away, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said he feared that Trump's actions in Iran could lead the United States into a foreign policy quagmire of the highest level.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said Trump had campaigned on stopping “endless wars” only to bring the country closer to them.
And former Vice President Joe Biden said Soleimani's killing was dangerous and would not have been necessary if Trump hadn't pulled the US out of what he called a successful nuclear deal that the Obama administration had reached with Iran.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren pledged to bring US combat troops back from the Middle East entirely, saying: “We should stop asking our military to solve problems that cannot be solved militarily.”
Trump also took on the leading Democratic candidates directly, saying of Sanders: “Bernie and the radical left cannot protect your family, nor can they protect our country."
He also criticized Biden's tendency to mix up locations, including recently confusing Iran with Iraq.
“When you do that you can't really recover," Trump said.
Winning back Wisconsin is a key part of Democrats' 2020 strategy — and one of the reasons the party chose Milwaukee to host its national convention in July. Trump won the state by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016 and he is expected to make frequent visits in the coming months as he works to maintain his edge.
Trump supporters began lining up Monday evening outside the arena to make sure they would be able to get inside.
“I think the Wisconsin vote is very important, very important," said Brenda Stoetzer, 60, from Hickory Hills, Illinois. “And we need to just spread the message here that, you know, Trump is helping the people, the ordinary people. He's not making the rich richer. He's making everyone richer.”
“I think he's done right by the whole country," agreed Nancy Freye, 65, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. “He's fighting for all of us every day. I don't know how you can even get anything done, but he does. So good for him and for us."