Trump vows harsh response to Iranian vessels that harass U.S. Navy

PENSACOLA, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump vowed on Friday that any Iranian vessels that harass the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be “shot out of the water” if he is elected on Nov. 8.

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Trump, at a rally before thousands of supporters in Pensacola, Florida, laid out an aggressive national security policy with a beefed-up U.S. military “so strong that nobody’s going to mess with us.”

He talked tough about how he would respond to any Iranian harassment of American ships in the Gulf. A U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship changed course after an Iranian fast-attack craft came within 100 yards (91 meters) of it on Sunday. It was the fourth such incident in the past month.

“When they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water,” he said.

Trump has based his foreign policy beliefs on keeping the United States out of what he called “endless wars” in the Middle East.

Visiting a city with a U.S. Navy base and where many military veterans live, Trump said he wants a stronger military to project American power and bolster the United States as the leader of the world.

Trump this week laid out a plan to spend many billions of dollars on bolstering the U.S. military, including more ships, planes and troops.

“We’re going to put us in a position of leadership of the world again so we can negotiate from a position of great, great strength. But more important than negotiating, we will be secure again,” he said.

Trump, who has drawn criticism for his frequent praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, also mentioned a recent incident in which a Russian fighter jet came within 10 feet (3 meters) of a U.S. Navy surveillance plane over the Black Sea.

“Putin laughs, believe me, he laughs at our leaders. Yesterday he had a plane 10 feet away, taunting us, toying with us, just like Iran,” he said.

Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Tom Brown