Former President Trump shocked a crowd in Florida on Wednesday when he appeared to offer praise for Hezbollah at a campaign event mere days after the attacks on Israel by Hamas, describing the Lebanese militant group as “very smart.” On today’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Lindsey Graham acknowledged the comment was “a huge mistake.”
Host Kristen Welker pointed out to Graham that Trump’s comments have been described as being “very shameful” by Israel’s communications team, but the senator stopped short of agreeing. He said, “If I were President Trump, I’d talk about being the strongest president for Israel in modern times.”
Graham also praised Trump’s statement clarifying his remarks, which came two days later, before attempting to pivot the conversation to his perceived “failings” of President Biden’s administration.
Welker interjected that Trump also insulted Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and added that many “saw that as a personal attack because Netanyahu has recognized President Biden as a duly elected president.”
When asked if Graham believes Trump’s comments about Netanyahu were “appropriate at this moment,” the senator said, “No… I thought it was not helpful.”
WATCH: Sen. @LindseyGrahamSC (R-S.C.) tells @kwelkernbc he'd support Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for speaker "tomorrow" if we was in the House.
"He's a good man but we need to get a speaker." pic.twitter.com/JHtADUJh8b
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) October 15, 2023
Trump extended a number of diplomatic advantages to Israel during his term as President. These included recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and signing a proclamation that declared Israel’s control over the Golan Heights. Palestinians have long called for Jerusalem to be named their capital, and the international community does not recognize Israel’s claim to east Jerusalem.
Several GOP candidates have also denounced Trump’s comments. Former vice-president Mike Pence told a crowd in New Hampshire, “I found the former president’s comments to be reckless and irresponsible. Leaders in this country should be sending no message other than America stands with Israel.”
“To speak in a critical way about Prime Minister Netanyahu, to refer to the terrorist organization Hezbollah as ‘very smart,’ I think — was incomprehensible to me,” he added. “Hezbollah’s not very smart. They’re evil.”
Watch this week’s “Meet the Press” in the video at the top of this post.
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