President Donald Trump made the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani a theme of his re-election campaign on Thursday, drawing cheers from thousands at a rally when he said the death saved lives and delivered “American justice”, Reuters informed.
At the campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, Trump spent a lengthy part of his stump speech defending his order to kill Soleimani and rejecting criticism from Democrats who say he overstepped his authority with the U.S. military’s drone strike against the commander of Iran’s military Quds force at Baghdad’s airport a week ago, Reuters writes.
He accused Soleimani of organizing violent protests by Iran-backed groups at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this month. Trump, who frequently trumpets his support of the U.S. military, said if he had not sent U.S. troops to protect the embassy the demonstrators might have broken in and killed Americans or taken them hostage, a repeat of the 2011 storming of a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, in which the U.S. ambassador was killed.
“Last week the United States once again took the bold and decisive action to save American lives and deliver American justice,” he said.
Trump’s appearance at the arena in Toledo was his first campaign rally of the 2020 election year, a sign of how critical the state is to his winning a second four-year term in office next November. Trump won Ohio in 2016 by 8 percentage points, flipping a state that had gone for Democrat Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012.
Trump and his top advisers have said Soleimani was masterminding “imminent” attacks against American targets in the Middle East, but have drawn criticism for not providing more detail to back up the claim.