During Wednesday night’s “Commander-in-Chief” forum on NBC News, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton appeared separately, but the two agreed to avoid harsh attacks that have dominated the campaign.
“I think that’s an exactly right way to proceed,” Clinton told the crowd.
“To a minimum, absolutely,” Trump said.
The focus: foreign policy.
On Iraq, Clinton again admitted supporting the war was a blunder, reports CBS News correspondent Major Garrett.
“I have said that my voting to give President Bush that authority was — from my perspective — my mistake,” Clinton said.
The Republican nominee used a different tactic. Trump denied backing the war when it first started — though he did support it — before turning against the Iraq war months later.
“I was against the war in Iraq because I said it would totally destabilize the MIddle East, which it has,” Trump said.
As commander-in-chief, Trump promised to be more cautious than Clinton.
“I think I’d be a lot slower. She has a happy trigger,” he said.
For Clinton’s part, she tried to smother that line of attack by arguing that in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), she would not add to the troops already on the ground.
“We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again and we’re not putting ground troops into Syria,” Clinton said.
When asked to clarify claims that he knows more about fighting ISIS than the generals leading the battle, Trump responded that what was really needed to defeat the terrorists was new leadership.
“I think under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble,” he said.
Yet despite Russia’s relationship to regional adversaries Syria and Iran, Trump warmed up to the Kremlin as a potential ally against ISIS.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could work on it together and knock the hell out of ISIS?” Trump questioned.
The GOP nominee even praised President Vladimir Putin’s authority, lauding the leader’s rule over Russia.
“I mean the man has very strong control over a country,” Trump said. “Now, it’s a very different system, and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he’s been a leader far more than our president has been a leader.”
Trump, during his on-stage interview, was also asked about the rates of sexual assault in the military and a tweet he sent out three years ago.
The tweet: “What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?”
Trump said that while he would not kick women out of the military, there would need to be tougher consequences for assault.