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World would be better place if Saddam, Gaddafi still in power: Trump

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump

WASHINGTON, Oct 26, (Agencies): The world would be a better place if dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were still in power, top Republican US presidential hopeful Donald Trump said in comments aired Sunday.

The billionaire real estate tycoon also told CNN’s “State of the Union” talk show that the Middle East “blew up” around US President Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, his biggest Democratic rival in the race for the White House. “100 percent”, Trump said when asked if the world would be better off with Saddam and Gaddafi still at the helm in Iraq and Libya. Both strongmen committed atrocities against their own people and are now dead. Saddam, the former Iraqi president, was toppled in the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and was executed in 2006. Gaddafi — who ruled Libya for four decades — was ousted and slain in Oct 2011 amid a NATO-backed uprising. “People are getting their heads chopped off. They’re being drowned. Right now it’s far worse than ever under Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi”, Trump said. “I mean, look what happened. Libya is a catastrophe. Libya is a disaster. Iraq is a disaster. Syria is a disaster. The whole Middle East. It all blew up around Hillary Clinton and around Obama. It blew up”. Calling Iraq the “Harvard of terrorism”, Trump said the country had turned into a “training ground for terrorists”. “If you look at Iraq from years ago, I’m not saying he (Saddam) was a nice guy. He was a horrible guy but it’s better than it is now”, Trump said.

He also said the United States should have taken Iraq’s oil, saying it was now being bought by China, and also going to Iran and the Islamic State group. “They have plenty of money because they took the oil because we were stupid”, he said of IS. “I said take the oil when we leave”. Trump said his foreign policy strategy would be centered around beefing up the US military. “All I know is this: we’re living in Medieval times … We’re living in an unbelievably dangerous and horrible world”, he said. “The Trump doctrine is simple”, he added. “It’s strength. It’s strength. Nobody is going to mess with us. Our military will be made stronger”. Trump on Sunday also went after his Republican rival Ben Carson, who has surged past him in the closely watched, early-voting state of Iowa.

According to a Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll out Friday, Carson claims 28 percent support from likely voters in the Republican Iowa caucus, compared to 19 percent for Trump. It was the second poll in two days that had Carson knocking Trump off his perch in Iowa, an intensely foughtover state because it votes first in the lengthy US nominating contests. “Ben Carson has never created a job in his life (well, maybe a nurse)”, Trump tweeted of the retired pediatric neurosurgeon, a fellow political newcomer. “I have created tens of thousands of jobs, it’s what I do”. But Carson, who has cemented his support among Christian evangelicals, shrugged off Trump’s darts in an interview with Fox News Sunday, saying, “I refuse to get into the mud pit”. “He is who he is. I don’t think that’s going to change. And I am who I am. That’s not going to change either”, he said of Trump.

In his interview with CNN, Trump acknowledged he was “surprised” by Carson’s advance, calling an Iowa event he was at several days ago a “love fest”. Alleging that US President Barack Obama has “divided this country”, Trump said that, in contrast, he would bring about bipartisanship. “I get along with everybody. I will be a great unifier for our country”, he told CNN. Republican voters view Trump as their strongest general election candidate, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that highlights the sharp contrast between the party’s voters and its top professionals regarding the billionaire businessman’s ultimate political strength.

Seven in 10 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say Trump could win in Nov 2016 if he is nominated, and that’s the most who say so of any candidate. By comparison, 6 in 10 say the same for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who, like Trump, has tapped into the powerful wave of antiestablishment anger defining the early phases of the 2016 contest. “Republicans think (Democrat) Hillary (Rodham Clinton) is weaker than she is.

They are wrong”, said Republican operative Katie Packer, who was deputy campaign manager for 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney. “They think we don’t need to win more women or more Hispanics to win. They’re wrong”. Former Florida Gov Jeb Bush, who has embraced a welcoming tone with Hispanics, tops the field of experienced political leaders on the question of electability, running about even with Carson and slightly behind Trump. Six in 10 Republicans say Bush could win the general election and 54 percent say the same about Florida Sen Marco Rubio.

There’s a drop-off among the rest of the crowded 2016 Republican class. None of the other candidates is viewed as electable in a general election by more than half of Republican voters. Carson, who is making inroads against front-runner Trump, on Sunday denied he would end the Medicare healthcare program for the elderly, saying he would provide the option of using a government-backed savings account to buy health insurance. Interviewed on “Fox News Sunday”, Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, said, “The program that I have outlined using health savings accounts … largely eliminates the need for people to be dependent on government programs” like Medicare. While he said in a separate interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “I’m not talking about getting rid of those programs”, he told Fox the savings accounts would be an “alternative” to the popular Medicare program.

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