5 Controversial Dictators and Leaders Donald Trump Has Praised
Donald Trump’s favorable mention of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on Tuesday is just the latest in a string of compliments he has paid to global strongmen.
Trump regularly mentions Saddam on the campaign trail, and his use of kind words for controversial leaders extends beyond the Middle East.
Here are some of the compliments he has paid to dictators or their work.
Vladimir Putin, Russia
Trump started building his network with international leaders just a few months into his presidential campaign.
He began building bridges with Russian President Vladimir Putin in December, after Putin called Trump “very colorful” and “talented.”
“I believe I’ll get along fine with Putin,” Trump said on “This Week.”
“If Putin respects me and if Putin wants to call me brilliant and other things that he said that were frankly very nice, I’ll accept that, and I’ll accept it on behalf of our country,” he said.
In January, Putin told CNN that he never called Trump “brilliant” specifically but said that he did think Trump was “bright.”
Kim Jong Un, North Korea
Until Trump praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in January, the most famous American supporter of the “dear leader” was arguably Dennis Rodman.
Trump qualified his remarks during a campaign stop in Iowa by saying that Kim is a “maniac” but went on to praise his work.
“You gotta give him credit,” Trump said.
“How many young guys — he was, like, 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals, and all of a sudden … he goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss,” Trump said. “It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle, he wiped out this one, that one. I mean, this guy doesn’t play games. And we can’t play games with him.”
Bashar al-Assad, Syria
Although President Barack Obama and other world leaders have been calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, Trump said he deserves top marks.
“I think in terms of leadership, he’s getting an A and our president is not doing so well,” Trump said of al-Assad during an interview with Fox News in September.
Later that week, in an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Trump tampered his praise for al-Assad but said the U.S. shouldn’t trust some of the groups rebelling against the regime.
“Assad’s a bad guy, but they’re all bad guys. We’re supporting rebels. You know they talk about the Syria Free Rebels. We’re supporting rebels. We don’t even know who they are,” Trump said.
Muammar Gaddafi, Libya
The deposed Libyan colonel, who was captured and killed by rebel fighters in 2011, was known for using brutal tactics.
Trump said during the CNN-Telemundo Republican candidates’ debate in February that while Gaddafi was “really bad,” his tactics were effective.
“We would be so much better off if Gaddafi were in charge right now. If these politicians went to the beach and didn’t do a thing and we had Saddam Hussein and if we had Gadhafi in charge, instead of having terrorism all over the place, we’d be — at least they killed terrorists, all right? And I’m not saying they were good, because they were bad, they were really bad, but we don’t know what we’re getting,” he said.
Saddam Hussein, Iraq
During a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday, Trump admitted that the former Iraqi dictator was not a good man but said that his work, which some considered genocide, was effective.
“We shouldn’t have been there. We shouldn’t have destabilized Saddam Hussein, right. He was a bad guy, really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists,” Trump said.
“He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were terrorists. Over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism. You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq. It’s like Harvard, OK? So sad, so sad.”
It was far from Trump’s first mention of Saddam on the campaign trail.