Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday called former President Donald Trump “dangerous” and “unfit to lead our country” for calling the terrorist group Hezbollah “very smart.”
The Illinois governor, one of three Jewish U.S. governors, released a strongly worded critique of the former president on behalf of President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.
“Donald Trump’s comments are disgusting, dangerous, and underscore a simple fact: he is unfit to lead our country and would make the United States and our allies around the world less safe,” Pritzker said.
Trump on Wednesday complimented the group — designated a terrorist organization by multiple countries — during a campaign speech in Palm Beach County, Florida. Trump also called Israeli Defense Minister Yova Gallant a “jerk” for warning Hezbollah not to attack Israel from the north and criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Two nights ago I read all of Biden’s security people … they said, ‘Gee, I hope Hezbollah doesn’t attack from the north, because that’s the most vulnerable spot.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute. You know, Hezbollah is very smart.’ They’re all very smart,” Trump said in the speech.
Trump went on to say of Hezbollah, “They’re vicious, and they’re smart. And, boy, are they vicious, because nobody’s ever seen the kind of sight that we’ve seen.” The comments came after U.S. allies warned Hezbollah against escalating the conflict in Israel, CNN reported.
Hezbollah is an Iran-backed Shiite Muslim political party and militant group based in Lebanon. Israel and Lebanon exchanged fire Wednesday near the Lebanon border, stoking fears of even more conflict.
Trump’s comments were resoundingly denounced by the White House and by Biden’s campaign.
“No true friend of Israel, the Jewish people, or of peace would praise Hezbollah just days after what President Biden and Jewish leaders have called the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust,” Pritzker said. “Right now is the time to stand with Israel as they confront unimaginable loss and the ongoing threat from terrorists seeking to harm their people.”
The White House in a statement said while they have steered clear of commenting on the 2024 election, “statements like this are dangerous and unhinged.”
“It’s completely lost on us why any American would ever praise an Iran-backed terrorist organization as ‘smart.’ Or have any objection to the United States warning terrorists not to attack Israel. Especially now as Israel is fighting back against one of the worst acts of mass murder in the country’s history,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said. “This is a time for all of us to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel against ‘unadulterated evil.’ That’s what the President is doing as commander in chief.”
On the social media platform X, U.S. Sen Tammy Duckworth wrote that Trump’s comments show “he was and continues to be, unfit to be commander in chief”
“He’s undermining our ally in their time of need,” Duckworth wrote. “He is a threat to national security.”
Pritzker, a member of the Biden-Harris National Advisory Council, has been a vocal supporter of Israel. The Democratic governor on Monday called Hamas an “Iranian-backed army of murderers” at a Jewish United Fund solidarity event. He also offered prayers for strength and vowed that the country and state “unequivocally stands with them in their battle to end the ongoing Hamas attacks.”
“We stand with Israel,” Pritzker said.