Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump doubled down on his attack against President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, accusing them again of being the “founders” of ISIS.
“I call President Obama and Hillary Clinton the founders of ISIS. They are the founders,” Trump said at a National Association of Home Builders event in Miami this morning.
“In fact, I think we will give Hillary Clinton, you know, if you're on a sports team, most valuable player, MVP,” Trump said. “ISIS will hand her the most valuable player award. Her only competition is Obama, between the two of them.”
Trump first made the accusation against Obama and Clinton last night at a rally in Sunrise, Florida and later reiterated the statement at another rally in Kissimmee today, calling the president "incompetent."
"And I've been saying that Barack Obama is the founder [of ISIS]," Trump said Thursday evening. "But if he would've kept a relatively small force, he probably could've prevented ISIS from forming."
Asked for comment, a senior administration official responded only, “Seriously?”
In an interview with radio personality Hugh Hewitt, Trump said his decision to use the term “founder” was “no mistake.”
“You meant that [Obama] created the vacuum, he lost the peace,” said Hewitt.
“No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS, I do,” responded Trump.
“With his bad policies, that’s why ISIS came about,” Trump continued. “If he would have done things properly, you wouldn’t have had ISIS.”
The Clinton campaign condemned Trump’s comments as an example of his “trash-talking the United States.”
“It goes without saying that this is a false claim from a presidential candidate with an aversion to the truth and an unprecedented lack of knowledge,” Jake Sullivan, the Clinton campaign’s senior policy adviser, said in a statement released after Trump’s speech.
Sullivan added, “What’s remarkable about Trump’s comments is that once again, he’s echoing the talking points of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and our adversaries to attack American leaders and American interests while failing to offer any serious plans to confront terrorism or make this country more secure.”
Later in the day, Trump's running mate Mike Pence came to the candidate's defense, placing some of the blame on the media and providing context for Trump's line of thinking.
"The media is talking today about another controversy over semantics," said Pence during a campaign stop in Wisconsin. "And it was Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that withdrew American forces precipitously without status of forces agreement and created the very vacuum in which ISIS was able to be spawned."
ABC’s Lee Ferran and Ines De La Cuetara contributed to this report.