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Donald Trump: Claim that Obama founded ISIS was "sarcasm"

Trump backtracks
Trump backtracks 01:49

Donald Trump said Friday that he was being sarcastic when he made the inflammatory claim earlier this week that Obama "founded" the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

On Wednesday, Trump first introduced the attack line at a rally in Sunrise, Florida.

"In fact, in many respects, you know they honor President Obama," Trump told the crowd about the terrorist organization. "ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He is the founder of ISIS, OK? He's the founder! He founded ISIS! And I would say the co-founder would be Crooked Hillary Clinton."

He repeated the line again during a phone interview on CNBC Thursday morning.

Trump: Obama founded ISIS 02:01

"He was the founder of ISIS, absolutely," Trump said.

And then on Hugh Hewitt's radio show later that day, the GOP nominee doubled (and tripled) down on the claim, even despite the conservative talk show host's attempt to tone down Trump's rhetoric.

"I know what you meant," Hewitt told Trump of his Obama-ISIS comments. "You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace."

But Trump stuck to his original statement. "No, I meant he's the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton."

Hewitt tried to fact check the billionaire in real time.

Trump's new attacks on Clinton 03:02

"But [Obama's] not sympathetic to them," he said. "He hates them. He's trying to kill them."

Trump responded: "I don't care. He was the founder. His -- the way he got out of Iraq was that that was the founding of ISIS, okay?"

Later in the interview, the real estate mogul said his claim was "no mistake."

"No, it's no mistake," Trump said. "Everyone's liking it. I think they're liking it."

Trump continued to repeat that Obama and Clinton were the founders of the terrorist organization at an event in Miami later Thursday.

"I call President Obama and Hillary Clinton the founders of ISIS - they're the founders," Trump told the National Association of Home Builders: "ISIS will hand [Clinton] the most valuable player award. Her only competition is Barack Obama, between the two of them."

On Thursday evening, Trump had one more exchange with a local television reporter about Obama starting ISIS.

"Isn't what you're saying inflammatory?" a WTVJ reporter asked.

Trump responded: "Let it be inflammatory. I tell the truth."

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