Donald Trump attempted to downplay his repeated assertation that President Obama "founded" the Islamic State, telling voters on Friday that he was "obviously" being sarcastic despite doubling down on the remark less than 24 hours prior.
"So I said, 'the founder of ISIS.' Obviously I'm being sarcastic — but not that sarcastic, to be honest with you," the Republican presidential nominee told voters at an afternoon campaign rally in Erie, Pa.
Trump has labeled Obama the "founder of ISIS" at each of his campaign rallies this week, in addition to simultaneously suggesting that the president and Hillary Clinton receive "most valuable player awards" from the radical Islamic terror group. The billionaire later declined to soften his remarks when conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt gave him the opportunity to do so.
"Last night, you said the president was the founder of ISIS. I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace," Hewitt said to Trump during a a radio interview on Thursday.
"No, I meant he's the founder of ISIS," Trump responded. "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."
But in an early-morning tweet on Friday, Trump appeared to reverse course and mock members of the media who had taken the claim "so seriously."
Ratings challenged @CNN reports so seriously that I call President Obama (and Clinton) "the founder" of ISIS, & MVP. THEY DON'T GET SARCASM?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2016
He continued to criticize political pundits on Friday who were still discussing the controversial comment.
"Now they're analyzing: 'Did he really mean that?' 'How could [he] say that?'" Trump said, pretending to be one of his many media critics.
"These people are the lowest form of life," the candidate said to thunderous applause.