During the Democratic presidential primary, Senator Bernie Sanders fashioned a recurrent criticism - one of the few to last through most of the campaign - of Hillary Clinton, that while he (Sanders) had seen around the bend far enough to determine that invading Iraq in 2003 was a bad idea, and voted against it, Clinton voted in favor. She never developed a strong comeback to that critique.
For anyone seeking to criticize Clinton, who like Sanders (and, as it happens, like this writer) thought in advance that the invasion was a bad idea, the appeal of that line argument as a blast on Clinton's judgement has some appeal.
From that standpoint, you can understand Donald Trump's desire to do what Sanders did. (The fact that Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, also supported the war, is inconvenient but, well, maybe somewhat disposable. On the other hand, the fact that Trump has scaled down his use of the Clinton-Iraq argument since picking Pence as running mate may suggest it's more than just a little problematic. On at least one televised interview, he proceeded to say "I don't care" about Pence's relative foresight on Iraq.)
On repeated occasions, Trump said he was against it from early on; on a 60 Minutes interview, for example, he said he "was against the war in Iraq from the beginning."
But there's a problem: Trump was not opposed to the war before it was undertaken. As the Atlantic reported:
"JF Trump repeats his claim that he was against the Iraq war from the start. This is not true, and every time he says it he needs to be called out on its falsity. To Trump’s credit, he turned against the war faster than some others, once it started going bad. Before it started, he was not among those — those like Barack Obama, like Al Gore, like a handful of Republicans in Congress, like Brent Scowcroft and other conservatives and realists — who warned that it would be a grievous mistake."
The Los Angeles Times cited an audio recording of a Trump interview with radio host Howard Stern on September 11, 2002, half a year before President George W. Bush ordered the invasion, on th question of whether invading was a good idea. Trump: “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.”
Searching for evidence he had opposed the war before it began, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks went to an interview of Trump with Neil Cavuto of Fox News in January 2003 saying perhaps Bush “shouldn't be doing it yet, and perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations.” according to Politifact. But Politifact also said Trump nowhere said he "was totally against the war in Iraq” and cautioned that the area could be destabilized as a result.
He doesn't get to take the high ground he apparently wants to occupy here. - rs