A senior White House official said Sunday President Trump mixed up the wording of his prepared remarks in Saudi Arabia because he was “exhausted.”
“He’s just an exhausted guy,” the official told reporters on background after many pointed out that Trump avoided the term “radical Islamic terrorism” during the speech to leaders of more than 50 Muslim-majority nations.
Trump diverted slightly from his prepared remarks in using “Islamic” rather than “Islamist.”
After remaining largely on script, that diversion caught the attention of many listeners who were curious to see whether Trump would use the phrase.
Instead, Trump used words terms like “Islamic extremism, and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.”
He avoided the phrase while he called on the Muslim community to fight against militant threats.
“That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism, and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews and the slaughter of Christians,” Trump said.
The senior official argued that Trump delivered a tough, and maybe even tougher-than-normal, speech despite dropping the phrase.
The expression “radical Islamic terrorism” became a centerpiece for Trump’s presidential campaign, with the business magnate claiming the term was a pivotal point in addressing modern threats.
Trump repeatedly criticized the Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent for president, for not using the phrase when talking about the fight against terrorist threats.
“I am going to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country,” Trump said at a rally in Ocala, Fla., in October, adding that Clinton “won’t even use the term.”
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia jointly cooperate in efforts to combat terrorist groups — such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and al Qaeda — that have seen their influence stretch throughout the Middle East.
Trump also attend the inauguration of the kingdom’s new Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology Sunday, which aims to combat terrorist propaganda and messaging.