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Trump brings a new focus to his 2020 stump speech: Iran

But Trump refused to call Soleimani a foreign military leader, opting instead to dub him the “world’s No. 1 terrorist.” At the opening of the rally, Vice President Mike Pence said: “Soleimani was not some ‘government official.’ He was a terrorist and President Trump was right to take him down.” To the crowd overwhelmingly supportive…

But Trump refused to call Soleimani a foreign military leader, opting instead to dub him the “world’s No. 1 terrorist.” At the opening of the rally, Vice President Mike Pence said: “Soleimani was not some ‘government official.’ He was a terrorist and President Trump was right to take him down.”

To the crowd overwhelmingly supportive of Soleimani’s death, Trump pinned opposition to his killing on his Democratic opponents.

Trump went after all the Democratic front-runners ahead of their debate in Iowa later Tuesday. Rehashing his favorite insults, he focused in particular on Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“Bernie is surging. Bernie! Bernie!” Trump said, referring to Sanders‘ recent surge to the front of the line in a Des Moines Register poll. “But the Democrats are outraged that we killed this terrorist monster, even though this monster was behind hundreds and hundreds of deaths.”

“Great percentages of people don’t have legs right now and arms because of this son of a bitch,” Trump continued, referring to Soleimani. “And the Democrats should be outraged by Soleimani’s evil crimes and not the decision to end his wretched life.”

Following Soleimani’s death, Sanders said he was concerned about the prospect of prompting another Middle East war and called the move an “assassination.” Sanders has made his anti-war stance a cornerstone of his campaign, often bringing up his then-unpopular opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Other Democrats expressed consternation that Trump took military action without the approval — or even knowledge — of Congress.

Still, Tuesday’s rally included a rare moment of Trump standing by Sanders’ side. In response to recent reports that Sanders privately told Sen. Elizabeth Warren that a woman would not be able to win the White House in 2020, Trump said: “I don’t believe that he said this because you know, I don’t know him. I don’t particularly like him. He’s a nasty guy… but it’s not his deal.”

Since Soleimani’s death, Trump and the Pentagon have claimed the Iranian general was plotting new attacks on U.S. embassies and military bases. Trump called protests at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad shortly before Soleimani’s death part of the covert campaign.

“They had thousands of soldiers,” Trump said. “Those was not protesters, they were soldiers, and they were surrounding our embassy in Baghdad. And suddenly they see our beautiful, very expensive, brand new Apache helicopters.”

Trump also claimed credit for changing Iranian views of the United States. Referencing a viral video of Tehran students refusing to walk over an American flag painted on the sidewalk, Trump declared: “They love America! They love our country! That’s called progress. But the Democrats are doing everything possible to disparage what we do.”

“Have you seen what happened in Iran?” Trump said. “The protesters are on our side! For the first time ever! They like Trump — they like you. I’m just your representative.”

In reality, the recent Iranian protests were far from the first time everyday Iranians have shown deference toward the United States. Following the signing of the landmark Iran nuclear deal in 2015 and the subsequent lifting of sanctions, thousands of Iranians flooded the streets demonstrating their glee at the thawing relations. Also, the recent protests are largely fueled by anger toward the religious regime.

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