RALEIGH, N.C. — Speaking at a rally Tuesday night, Donald Trump offered a note of praise for the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. He was a bad guy, a really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said. "They didn't read them the rights. They didn't talk. They were a terrorist? It was over."
Trump made the comment in the middle of his speech to a packed house of roughly 2,300 people at a historic performing arts complex here, while criticizing the foreign policy decisions of President Barack Obama.
Specifically, he was criticizing the decision to remove U.S. combat forces from Iraq in a way that created a vacuum of power.
"Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism. You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq," Trump said.
The campaign of Hillary Clinton, Trump's presumptive Democratic opponent, responded later Tuesday evening with a statement from senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan.
"In reality, Hussein's regime was a sponsor of terrorism — one that paid families of suicide bombers who attacked Israelis, among other crimes. 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," Sullivan said.
When Fox News asked House Speaker Paul D. Ryan about Trump's latest comments about Hussein, Ryan responded by saying that the dictator "was one of the 20th century's most evil people."