Yet throughout the campaign, Trump has insisted that he opposed it. He has said it over and over and over again. And he said it again at Monday night’s debate.
Afterward, moderator Lester Holt called him on it. What followed is this exchange, reproduced in its entirety. Trump’s answer — what I said doesn’t count; ask my friend Sean Hannity — is ... well, let’s call it less than persuasive:
HOLT: You supported the war in Iraq.
TRUMP: That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her, because she frankly, I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media. Would you like to hear? I was against the war, wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.
CLINTON: The record shows otherwise, but.
TRUMP: It does not show that. The record shows that I'm right. When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anybody's asked me, I said who knows. Essentially, I then did an interview Neil Cavuto. I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox, and he called me the other day and I spoke to him about it. He said you were totally, because he was for the war.
TRUMP: And that is before the war started. Sean Hannity said very strongly, to me and other people, he's willing to say, but nobody wants to call him, I was against the war. He said you used to have fights with me, because Sean was in favor of the war. And I understand that side also. Not very much, because we should have never been there, but nobody called Sean Hannity. And then they did an article in a major magazine, shortly after the war started. I think in '04. But they did an article, which had me totally against the war in Iraq.
And one of your compatriots said, you know, whether it was before or right after, Trump was, because if you read this article, there's no doubt. But if somebody, and I'll ask the press, if somebody would call up Sean Hannity, this was before the war started. He and I used to have arguments about the war. I said it's a terrible and a stupid thing. It's going to destabilize the Middle East. And that exactly what this has done.
HOLT: My reference is to what you said in 2002.
TRUMP: You didn't hear what I said.
HOLT: Why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton's?
TRUMP: I have better judgment, I also have a much better temperament than she does, you know? I have a much better. She spent — let me tell you, she spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising, you know, they get Madison Avenue into a room. Temperament, let's go after. I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not.