Donald Trump has a knack for saying what many voters want to hear.
But the former president is wrong when it comes to defending NATO allies against Russian aggression.
That’s according to a Quinnipiac University poll, which shows that American voters by wide margins strongly support the 74-year-old military alliance and its strong guarantee of mutual defense.
More than seven in ten respondents called Trump’s approach — encouraging Russia to attack a non-paying NATO member — a “bad idea.”
Quinnipiac University’s national poll of 1,421 voters was conducted in mid-February.
Barely a fifth considered it a “good idea.”
Quinnipiac pollster Tim Malloy said Trump’s “tough stance” toward NATO allies “comes with a thud” among 1,421 respondents.
“American voters say the 31-member security alliance is not only good for Europe, but also good for the United States,” Malloy said.
Trump has long worried that the United States is being misled by NATO allies who do not live up to their commitment to devote 2 percent of their economies to defense spending.
Speaking at a rally in Conway, South Carolina, earlier this month, the Republican front-runner went further than in his previous comments.
He told a story about an unnamed NATO member who confronted him about his threat not to defend members who did not meet the transatlantic alliance’s defense spending targets.
‘Didn’t you pay? Are you a criminal? Trump reported saying.
‘No, I wouldn’t protect you. In fact, I would encourage [Russia] do whatever they want. You have to pay. You have to pay your bills.
Then-President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin shake hands in Helsinki, Finland, in 2018.
The Ukrainian army walks through the rubble after a Russian missile attack in Kharkiv: a powerful symbol of Russia’s threat to Europe
Flags of member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at the alliance’s headquarters in Belgium
NATO allies agreed in 2014, after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, to halt spending cuts they had made after the Cold War and move toward spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense by 2024.
Pollster Tim Malloy says Trump’s NATO policy ‘thuds’ to voters
This year, 18 allies are expected to meet that goal, six times more than in 2014, when only three allies met the guideline, NATO says.
Trump’s comments alarmed many as they undermined the collective defense pact at the heart of NATO, known as Article 5: that an attack on one member is an attack on all.
President Joe Biden called his likely opponent’s comments in the 2024 election “dangerous” and “un-American.”
The comments came as Ukraine remained stalled in its efforts to prevent the 2022 Russian invasion and as Republicans in Congress became increasingly skeptical about providing Kiev with more weapons and money.
Quinnipiac polls show that Trump’s views on NATO do not resonate with voters.
71 percent said encouraging Russia to invade a lower-paying member was a “bad idea.”
Only 18 percent said it was a “good idea”; another 11 percent did not offer an opinion.
A giant Ukrainian flag flew during a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Madrid, Spain, one of the 31 members of NATO.
Russian D-30 howitzer crews take aim at their Ukrainian enemies in Kupiansk, in a war that has alarmed NATO members along the border with Russia.
An overwhelming 83 percent of respondents said U.S. membership in NATO was important, while 25 percent said it was not.
Democrats were more supportive of NATO than Republicans.
Still, the poll showed that more Republican voters disagreed with Trump than agreed with him.
The national poll of 576 Republicans and 624 Democrats was conducted in mid-February, with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percent.
NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) currently has 31 members, most of them European nations, plus the United States and Canada.
It was founded in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union’s rising Cold War tensions.
NATO makes decisions by consensus, but the political and military strength of the United States means it is by far the most powerful country in the alliance, and its nuclear arsenal is considered the ultimate guarantee of security.