In scenes that would probably have confounded time travelers from as recently as last year, the presumptive GOP nominee for president praised Saddam Hussein in front of an enthusiastic crowd Tuesday night. Saddam was a "really bad guy," Donald Trump told a rally in Raleigh, NC, per the Chicago Tribune. "But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists," Trump continued. "He did that so good. They didn't read them the rights—they didn't talk, they were a terrorist, it was over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism. You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq." Trump has praised Saddam and other dictators before, the Washington Post notes: In October, he used the same "Harvard of terrorism" line and said the world would be "100%" better off if the Iraqi dictator and Moammar Gadhafi were still in power.
Paul Ryan was among the Republicans who swiftly distanced themselves from Trump's praise for Saddam, CNN reports. Saddam "was one of the 20th century's most evil people. He was up there," the House speaker told Fox's Megyn Kelly. "He committed mass genocide against his own people using chemical weapons." But Ryan didn't directly criticize Trump, whose remarks were pounced on by Hillary Clinton's campaign. "Trump's cavalier compliments for brutal dictators, and the twisted lessons he seems to have learned from their history, again demonstrate how dangerous he would be as commander in chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks," campaign adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. (A new Marvel villain will seem familiar to Trump-watchers.)