The Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran has created an increasingly hostile new “world power,” Donald Trump told Virginia voters Tuesday.
"We’ve created a monster,” the Republican presidential nominee said at an afternoon town hall event in Virginia Beach that focused on foreign affairs. Trump slammed the deal as "grossly incompetent” and slammed his Democratic opponent for her tenure as Obama's first secretary of state.
"This was a deal Hillary Clinton wanted,” Trump said. "We get nothing."
The 2015 nuclear framework agreement was struck by Clinton's successor, John Kerry. Under the deal, Iran is pledged to restrict its nuclear program to peaceful purposes for a decade, but it is not required to dismantle the infrastructure necessary for Iran to develop nuclear weapons eventually.
In exchange, the international community lifted most of the sanctions that were in place on Iran, some of which date back to the country’s revolution against the Shah in 1979.
"We happen to have given them Iraq," Trump said. "Iran is going to get what ISIS doesn’t already have.”
The event’s moderator, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, whom Trump once considered as a vice presidential running mate, turned the focus to other Middle East hotspots, including Syria, and the Islamic State (IS). Trump, a real estate investor making his first run for political office, took the opportunity to scorch Clinton on a range of foreign policy issues.
Trump sidestepped Flynn’s question on whether he supported regime change in Syria, saying instead that the real problem was the Islamic State, not Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"They [the Islamic State] are spreading rapidly,” Trump said. "It’s gotten very much out of control. We have to knock out ISIS, we have to knock them out good.”
Trump said it would be in the interest of the United States to work more closely with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who committed forces to Syria in support of Assad's government in September, 2015.
"Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia and we could knock them out together?” Trump said. "We have to get along with people, with certain nations (including Russia), to launch major attacks on ISIS.”
Clinton's Middle East policies have “been a disaster in so many different ways,” Trump said.
"Hillary wants to be the [Angela] Merkel of the United States,” he said, referring to the German chancellor, whose ruling Christian Democratic party lost in local elections in her home state of Mecklenburg-Pomerania to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Deutschland party over the weekend. “The Middle East is a disaster. We have to solve it bigly and strongly.”
The Clinton campaign released an issue brief on Trump on Tuesday in which it asked voters “to start imagining President Trump on the Situation Room.”
Trump wants to “bring back torture” as a means of interrogating suspected terrorists, the brief said, and “send thousands of U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS.”
The brief also said Trump was too friendly with “brutal dictators and regimes,” including that of Putin.
“Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal,” Clinton said in a July 17 foreign policy speech in San Diego, California. "Do we want his finger anywhere near the button?”
A CNN/ORC International poll of 786 likely voters released Tuesday showed Trump leading Clinton 45 to 43 percent nationally, within the poll’s plus or minus 3.5-percentage point margin of error.
An Emerson College poll of 800 likely voters in Virginia released on September 2nd showed Clinton leading Trump 44 to 43 percent in the state. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.