"I did not support the war in Iraq," Trump said after moderator Lester Holt raised a question about the candidate's previously declared support of the war in Iraq.
"That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her," Trump continued, referring to his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
What followed was two more minutes of media nonsense in which the Republican nominee attempted to explain away a 2002 Howard Stern interview. The radio host asked Trump whether or not he backed the war; on Monday, Trump said he gave a dismissive answer, something along the lines of "maybe, who knows." What he actually said to Stern, according to CNN, was, "Yeah, I guess so."
Then there was his statement in 2003 to Fox News' Neil Cavuto that the Iraq war was a "tremendous success from a military standpoint." During the debate, Trump mentioned that interview, but not that particular quote.
Trump then evoked Sean Hannity, also of Fox News, with whom he allegedly sparred over their differing viewpoints on the Iraq war. Hannity, a friend to the Trump campaign, was for it; Trump, according to Trump, was against it. In Feb. 2016, Hannity corroborated that story. But, he has said, Trump disavowed the war in private phone conversations, so who knows.
Charting the life cycle of Trump's opinion on the Iraq War, the Washington Post has determined it more or less followed that of the average American: Initially favorable, but his outlook turned cloudy as it became clearer that the conflict was neither warranted nor going well.
Regardless of how he got here, though, Trump now adamantly maintains that he has always been staunchly anti-Iraq war.