White House slams ‘unhinged’ Trump for calling Hezbollah ‘very smart’

GOP presidential rival Ron DeSantis also slammed the former president for his comments

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Friday 13 October 2023 10:16 BST
Donald Trump calls Hezbollah ‘very smart’

The White House has condemned former president Donald Trump for calling the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah “very smart” in remarks on Thursday night in Florida.

His comments came less than a week after militant group Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at a “Club 47 USA” event in West Palm Beach on Wednesday (11 October), the former president said: “Can you imagine national defence people, and they said ‘gee, I hope Hezbollah doesn’t attack from the north because that’s the most vulnerable spot’.

“And I said ‘Wait a minute. You know Hezbollah’s very smart. They’re all very smart.’ The press doesn’t like it when I say that. You know, I said that about President Xi of China, 1.4 billion people, he controls it with an iron fist. I said ‘he’s a very smart man’.

“They killed me the next day… ‘He said he was smart’. What am I gonna say… But Hezbollah, they’re very smart.”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement that, although the Biden administration doesn’t typically comment on the 2024 presidential race, Mr Trump’s remarks were “dangerous and unhinged”.

“It’s completely lost on us why any American would ever praise an Iran-backed terrorist organization as ‘smart.’ Or have any objection to the United States warning terrorists not to attack Israel,” Mr Bates said.

“Especially now as Israel is fighting back against one of the worst acts of mass murder in the country’s history.”

He added: “This is a time for all of us to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel against ‘unadulterated evil.’

“That’s what the President is doing as commander in chief.”

Mr Trump’s remarks were also slammed by his GOP presidential rival Ron DeSantis.

The Florida governor shared a clip of Mr Trump’s comments on X, writing: “Terrorists have murdered at least 1,200 Israelis and 22 Americans and are holding more hostage, so it is absurd that anyone, much less someone running for President, would choose now to attack our friend and ally, Israel, much less praise Hezbollah terrorists as ‘very smart’.

“As President, I will stand with Israel and treat terrorists like the scum that they are.”

In other recent remarks, Mr Trump has described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country as “unprepared”.

“He has been hurt very badly because of what’s happened here,” Mr Trump said of Mr Netanyahu on Wednesday night.

“He was not prepared. He was not prepared and Israel was not prepared.”

Israel reports that more than 1,300 people were killed and more than 3,000 wounded in the attack on the south of the country on Saturday (7 October).

Since then, Palestinian officials report that more than 1,400 people have been killed and over 6,000 injured in Gaza.

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