(CNN) — Former US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that the Civil War could have been avoided through “negotiations”, arguing that the fight to end slavery in the country was ultimately unnecessary and that Abraham Lincoln should have done more to avoid bloodshed.
“A lot of mistakes were made. I think there are things that are negotiable, honestly,” Trump said at a campaign event in Newton, Iowa. I think this is negotiable. “All the people died. Many people died.”
The former president’s comments come just over a week before Iowa holds its first caucuses – the primary – in which he has a significant lead in polls over his nearest rival, the governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis and former Florida Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina.
The Civil War has become an unlikely topic in the Republican primary. Trump’s comments come more than a week after Haley responded to a question about the causes of the Civil War without mentioning slavery, the driving force behind the war. He has since backtracked, repeatedly stating that he believed the truth to be self-evident.
Trump’s comments were not directed at or in reference to Haley’s comments.
In fact, before the Civil War began, many efforts had been made to reach an agreement to save the Union. But the future of slavery in the South could not be settled by compromise or agreement, and the nation was trapped in a state of self-contradiction. Trump gave no indication of how he would avoid the conflict, which he called “so horrific and yet so fascinating.”
“I don’t know, it’s just different,” Trump said of the war. “I just found it…I enjoyed watching it.”
After describing the injuries suffered by soldiers on the battlefield, Trump said, “Nothing good comes of it,” adding that the war has been “tough on our country.”
He also said that “if Lincoln negotiated,” he would not have the same historical cachet.
Former Republican Rep. Liz Cheney criticized Trump’s stance on social media and asked how Republicans who support the former president “could possibly defend this.”
“Which part of the Civil War was ‘negotiable’? The slavery part? The secession part? Should Lincoln have preserved the Union? Cheney wrote. “The question posed to members of the Republican Party (Party of Lincoln) who support Donald Trump is: How How can I defend this? “
Modern Republicans have traditionally viewed Lincoln as a hero—a Republican hero—because of his role in preserving the Union when the South sought to secede rather than end slavery.