Trump says he was against Iraq war despite Howard Stern interview

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thursday said he was against the Iraq war all along despite telling radio interviewer Howard Stern in 2002 that he favored it.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reads off a teleprompter as he speaks at the Cleveland Arts and Social Sciences Academy in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Trump used the start of a speech about education at a charter school in Cleveland to push back at Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s statement that his position on Iraq is pretty much like her own: She voted for the 2003 war as a U.S. senator from New York but has since disavowed the vote.

At an NBC forum on Wednesday night, Clinton pointed to a September 2002 interview Trump gave to radio host Howard Stern to say that Trump had supported the war. Trump had said “Yeah, I guess so,” when asked about a potential conflict in Iraq.

Various fact-checkers have cited this interview to debunk Trump’s statement that he was always against the war.

In Cleveland, Trump cited a Jan. 28, 2003, interview he did with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto to say he was skeptical.

In that interview, Trump said: “I think the Iraqi situation is a problem. And I think the economy is a much bigger problem as far as the president is concerned.”

He said in his Cleveland remarks that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq had left a power void filled by Islamic State militants.

“But I was opposed to that war from the beginning, long before my interview with Howard Stern,” Trump said.

He also cited what he said was a March 25, 2003, interview.

“Just days after the war started, I was quoted as saying the war is a mess,” Trump said, calling it “more evidence that I had opposed the war from the start.”

Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Leslie Adler and Dan Grebler