The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump intensifies effort to cast Obama as ‘founder of ISIS’

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during his campaign event at the BB&T Center on August 10, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Donald Trump on Thursday intensified his effort to cast President Obama as the "founder" of the Islamic State terrorist group, eagerly and repeatedly using the label in a radio interview just hours after he said it at a rally in Florida.

"Last night, you said the president was the founder of ISIS. I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace," conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt told Trump during a morning interview, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Trump responded: "No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton."

At a Wednesday night rally in Sunrise, Fla., the Republican presidential nominee said Obama and Clinton botched policy in the Middle East and fueled the growth of terrorism there.

"He is the founder of ISIS," he told supporters, adding of his Democratic rival: "And I would say the co-founder is crooked Hillary Clinton."

The Fix: Trump’s ‘Obama founded ISIS’ comment exemplifies why his campaign is on the brink of doom

It was not the first time Trump directed that kind of attack against Obama and Clinton. He said in January that their policies "created ISIS." He called Clinton the "founder of ISIS" earlier this month.

Hewitt pointed out that Obama has waged an effort against the Islamic State: "He’s not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He’s trying to kill them."

Trump replied: "I don’t care. He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was, that was the founding of ISIS."

The mogul said it was not a mistake to use the term "founder."

"Everyone’s liking it," he insisted. "I think they’re liking it. I give him the most valuable player award. And I give it to him, and I gave the co-founder to Hillary. I don’t know if you heard that."

Hewitt said he did not like Trump's word choice.

"They created the Libyan vacuum, they created the vacuum into which ISIS came, but they didn’t create ISIS. That’s what I would say," the radio host explained.

Trump didn't budge.

"I mean, with his bad policies, that’s why ISIS came about," the mogul argued.

The group now known as the Islamic State was founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and was active in Iraq by 2003, when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell cited him in a speech to the United Nations.