During the Republican debate Wednesday night, Donald Trump said he was on the record as being actively against the Iraq War before the invasion in 2003.
"I am the on this dais -- the only person that fought very, very hard against us -- and I wasn't a sitting politician going into Iraq," Trump said. "Because I said going into Iraq -- that was in 2003."
Trump said it would be easier to find "25 different stories" of him being against the war before the invasion.
"You can check it out, check out -- I'll give you 25 different stories," said Trump. "In fact, a delegation was sent to my office to see me because I was so vocal about it. I'm a very militaristic person, but you have to know when to use the military. I'm the only person up here that fought against going into Iraq."
"I think it is very important," he continued. "I think it is important because it is about judgment. I didn't want to go into Iraq, it is about judgment. Because what I said, you're going to destabilize the Middle East and that's what happened."
An extensive BuzzFeed News review was unable to find any Trump statements on the Iraq War before the invasion in March 2003, but did find two statements he made the week the war started, one calling it "a mess" and one saying it would have a positive impact on the stock market.
Trump was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, "The war's a mess."
He said on Fox News the weekend the war started, "I think the market's going to go up like a rocket."
Trump did turn against the war in 2004, calling it a disaster.
Trump was slightly more aggressive about Iraq in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, saying he had wished then-President George H.W. Bush had finished the job during the Gulf War.
"We can learn something here from George Bush and see how good a president he was," wrote Trump.
"He wasn't afraid to use American power when he figured out that Saddam Hussein posed a direct threat to American interests in the East. I only wish, however, that he had spent three more days and properly finished the job. It is this kind of will and determination to use our strength strategically that America needs again in dealing with the North Koreans."
Trump also wrote in his book that if we attack Iraq we should "carry the mission to its conclusion," and that "Iraq remains a threat."
Consider Iraq. After each pounding from U.S . warplanes, Iraq has dusted itself off and gone right back to work developing a nuclear arsenal. Six years of tough talk and U.S. fireworks in Baghdad have done little to slow Iraq's crash program to become a nuclear power. They've got missiles capable of flying nine hundred kilometers—more than enough to reach Tel Aviv. They've got enriched uranium. All they need is the material for nuclear fission to complete the job, and, according to the Rumsfeld report, we don't even know for sure if they've laid their hands on that yet. That's what our last aerial assault on Iraq in 1999 was about. Saddam Hussein wouldn't let UN weapons inspectors examine certain sites where that material might be stored. The result when our bombing was over? We still don't know what Iraq is up to or whether it has the material to build nuclear weapons. I'm no warmonger. But the fact is, if we decide a strike against Iraq is necessary, it is madness not to carry the mission to its conclusion. When we don't, we have the worst of all worlds: Iraq remains a threat, and now has more incentive than ever to attack us.
That's it. That's the whole record of Trump on Iraq until he came out against the war in 2004.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at email@example.com.
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