Fox panel debates Trump's Iraq trip: Impromptu 'campaign rally'

The co-hosts of Fox News's "Outnumbered" on Thursday debated the optics of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE's visit to Iraq to meet with troops stationed abroad during the holidays as well as his comments to the service members.

Members of the five-person panel differed over whether Trump's comments to troops at the airbase west of Baghdad — in particular him describing the U.S. as "not the suckers of the world” anymore — amounted to support for U.S. forces or a rebuke of past administrations and wars.


“I would never consider us as a country, as the United States, suckers,” co-anchor Julie Banderas said. “We have always led the fight in every single major war. Our military men and women, I believe, deserve way more respect than that."

"What does that say to the families who have lost loved ones in wars prior to right now?" Banderas added. " 'Oh, so my son or daughter was a sucker when they were fighting for our freedom?' ”

Author Jessica Tarlov agreed, adding that the president used his appearance at the airbase to stage an impromptu "campaign rally."

“His approval rating with the military is at 44 percent,” Tarlov said of the president. “While [former Defense Secretary] Jim Mattis’s is at 84 percent."

"Why is that? If he is the most beloved and the most supportive of the military out there, why is his approval rating under 50 percent?” she added.

Co-host Lisa Kennedy defended Trump's remarks during his trip to the Al Asad Airbase, saying that the president's comments were meant to praise the bravery of U.S. troops.

“I would push back on that. I think it speaks to their bravery,” Kennedy responded. "I think it speaks to these people who enlist, these people who fight. They're incredibly brave because sometimes they put themselves in harm's way for incursions and wars that don't make sense."

Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump, first lady take part in National Christmas Tree lighting Capitol Christmas tree lights up Washington MORE used their roughly three-hour trip to deliver holiday greetings to service members in Iraq, with the president posing for selfies and signing autographs. It was Trump's first visit to a combat zone as president.

Trump faced criticism prior to his surprise visit to Iraq this week after he announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and declared victory against the Islamic State in the region, a decision that reportedly played a role in the resignations of both Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThreatening foreign states with sanctions can backfire Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court MORE and Brett McGurk, the top U.S. envoy to anti-ISIS coalition forces last week.

The president has defended his decision in the days since, slamming McGurk on social media while denying that he was planning a similar reduction of troops in Iraq.