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Trump slurs in rally speech after boasting about assassination of Iran commander then complaining about not winning Nobel Peace Prize

Diatribe comes days after president prompted concerns over wellbeing with laboured address at Iran press briefing

Andy Gregory
Friday 10 January 2020 12:38 GMT
Donald Trump slurs during MAGA rally speech

Donald Trump has boasted about ordering the assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani during a rambling, invective-filled and at times slurred campaign rally speech to supporters in Ohio.

“We stopped him quickly and we stopped him cold ... at my direction,” the US president said of the Quds force leader’s death, which lit a match under several delicate diplomatic ties in the Middle East and sparked fears of a major escalation in violence.

Mr Trump then went on to revisit his irritation at not being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Days after being criticised for threatening to commit war crimes by targeting Iranian cultural sites, Mr Trump lamented his loss at the hands of Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed, who was lauded in part for achieving a peace deal with Eritrea after two decades of war.

“I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country,” Mr Trump claimed, although it is unclear why the president felt he deserved credit for bringing peace to the East African region.

While Trump administration officials may have played a minor role in the historic 2018 negotiations, it is also plausible that he was referring to his involvement in a dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over a new dam on the River Nile in November.

Having been a nominated for his efforts in North Korea, the Nobel Prize loss has been a sore point for Mr Trump, after his predecessor Barack Obama was awarded the accolade in 2009.

His frustration also appears to tie into a strong tendency towards legacy building – a lens through which some commentators suggest the assassination of Soleimani can be viewed, as the latest in a lengthy line of often haphazard attempts.

Telling the Toledo crowd he “saved a big war, saved a couple of ‘em”, Mr Trump was keen to take credit for relieving tensions inflamed by his decision to kill Soleimani, while proclaiming the might of the US military and issuing a warning to enemies of the US.

“We are using this great power, not to pursue conflicts, but to really preserve, and I mean that in the truest sense of the word, preserve peace,” he said. “We have this tremendous military ... a great fighting force, but I hope we never have to use it.

“You saw an example of that a couple of days ago. So we seek friends not enemies, but if you dare to threaten our citizens, you do so at your own grave peril.”

It was indicative of a wide-ranging address that read like a checklist of issues designed to shore up support with his key voter base.

Donald Trump boasts about Soleimani killing before complaining about not winning Nobel Peace Prize

The president attacked Mr Obama for playing golf and “violating the carbon footprint” days after moving to roll back environmental protections, and claimed he hadn’t informed “vicious, horrible” Democrats of the Iran drone strikes because they would have leaked his plans to the “really sick” and “corrupt” fake news media.

He also joked at the likelihood of his supporters shouting “where’s Hunter?” at Joe Biden, “every single debate, nine times a debate”, before mocking Pete Buttigieg name by repeatedly yelling his surname.

Just days after the laboured delivery of a key press briefing on Iran raised concerns over his wellbeing, Mr Trump rounded off the rally speech with a heavily slurred statement of intent for the upcoming election.

“We will make America strong again,” he said. “We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again, and we will make America great again”.

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