WASHINGTON (AP) – United States (US) Donald Trump once warned Barack Obama not to “play the Iran card” to boost his political prospects by starting a war.
Eight years later, Trump is showing no reluctance to capitalise politically on his order to kill a top Iranian general, drawing accusations that he is weaponising foreign policy for his campaign’s own gain.
Trump’s campaign has used the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, as a cudgel against the President’s Democratic political rivals and to divert attention from his impending impeachment trial in the Senate.
“Americans want to see their President acting decisively and defending the nation’s interests and that’s exactly what President Trump did,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.
“Republicans are good at killing terrorists and this is a reminder of that,” added Communications Director of the Republican National Committee Michael Ahrens.
The President is expected to amplify those messages today in Toledo, Ohio, during his first campaign rally since the drone strike last week. Trump’s campaign purchased ads on Facebook highlighting the Soleimani killing.
The Pentagon said Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” But the Trump administration has refused to provide any specific information about the nature or timing of the alleged plots, leaving Trump open to suspicions that the attack was driven, at least in part, by a belief that it might help him in the polls.