By ALAN RAPPEPORTAUG
Donald J. Trump tried to quash the latest controversy engulfing his campaign, suggesting on Friday that he was not serious when he said that President Obama and Hillary Clinton were the “founders” of the Islamic State terrorist group.
After making the suggestion at a rally on Wednesday night, Mr. Trump doubled-down on the assertion on Thursday, insisting in multiple interviews that he really did mean it when he said that the president and Mrs. Clinton were responsible for ISIS. But in an early-morning Twitter post, Mr. Trump said that he was just being sarcastic.
The turnabout was a reversal from just a day ago, when Mr. Trump said in multiple interviews that he was indeed serious about the charge. When the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt tried to help Mr. Trump soften the remark by reminding him that Mr. Obama wants to destroy ISIS, the Republican presidential nominee would not have it.
“No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do,” Mr. Trump said.. “He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”
The latest firestorm comes as Mr. Trump has been trying to refocus his campaign on the economy amid declining poll numbers. Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton gave dueling economic speeches in Michigan this week.
On Friday, Mr. Trump tried again to return to that subject. Taking again to Twitter, he warned that Mrs. Clinton’s proposals would come with higher taxes and he said that he found her speech boring.
Mr. Trump is scheduled to hold rallies in Pennsylvania on Friday, in the cities of Erie and Altoona.