Donald Trump set off (another) firestorm of criticism last night when he seemed to praise Saddam Hussein.

"He was a bad guy — really bad guy," Trump said at a rally Tuesday. "But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good."

It's a pattern Trump has exhibited before: He's careful to qualify his statements about authoritarian leaders by saying that they're "bad," but then goes on to detail a few things about them that are, well, not so bad. And Tuesday's remarks about Hussein, whose regime President George W. Bush labeled part of the "Axis of Evil" and who was executed in 2006, aren't the first time he's praised the former Iraqi president, nor the first authoritarian leader or regime he's praised.

It's a fine line that Trump is walking: He can deny he's praising authoritarian leaders like Saddam Hussein, Vladimir Putin and others. But he's not exactly insulting them, either.

Above: A closer look at Trump's strongman thoughts.