President Donald Trump is questioning why the Civil War could not have been avoided and says President Andrew Jackson could have prevented it had he been in office "a little later" — comments that immediately drew fire Monday from Democrats who charged the president was ignoring slavery.
"People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?" Trump said in a clip of the radio interview released by the SiriusXM show "Main Street Meets the Beltway."
"People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?" Trump added.
Trump's populist appeal has drawn comparisons to Jackson, a juxtaposition the president embraces. The president visited Jackson's estate, The Hermitage, in March and placed a wreath on the tomb of the seventh commander-in-chief.
"Had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart," Trump said in the interview with the Washington Examiner's Salena Zito. "He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, 'There's no reason for this.'"
Jackson died in 1845, 16 years before the war began.
The president was mocked earlier this year when he claimed that the 19th-century abolitionist hero Frederick Douglass had "done an amazing job."
Trump also has praised President Abraham Lincoln, who served during the Civil War. He told House Republicans in March that Lincoln was a "great president."
"Most people don't even know he was a Republican. Right? Does anyone know? A lot of people don't know that. We have to build that up a little more," he said.
Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele told NBC News' Andrea Mitchell that the comments underscore Trump's often faulty or incomplete view of history.
"There is a clear lack of understanding of the history of this country and particularly of matters related to race and civil rights and the Civil War," Steele said on MSNBC's "Andrew Mitchell Reports."
Trump critics took to Twitter to react to the president's thoughts: