WATERLOO, Iowa — Former president Donald Trump denied comparisons to dictators such as Adolf Hitler on Tuesday, as he repeated his claim that undocumented immigrants are “destroying the blood of our country.”
“It’s true, they’re destroying the blood of our country. … They don’t like it when I said that,” he said.
“I never read ‘Mein Kampf,’” Trump said, referring to Hitler’s political manifesto. “They said, ‘Oh, Hitler said that.’ In a much different way. Now they’re coming from all over the world. People all over the world. We have no idea. They could be healthy, they could be very unhealthy, they could bring in disease that’s going to catch on in our country. But they do bring in crime.”
Trump’s remarks, delivered here at a Commit to Caucus event, come as he has faced backlash from historians, civil rights advocates, immigrant rights groups, some Republicans and the Biden campaign for suggesting undocumented immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.” That rhetoric has drawn comparisons to Hitler’s fixation on blood purity.
Despite those comparisons, Trump has repeated a similar statement several times, including at a campaign event in New Hampshire this past weekend and in a post on Truth Social, in which he said that undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood” of the country.
Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for strongmen. According to a Vanity Fair article from 1990, Ivana Trump told her lawyer that Trump read “My New Order,” a book of Hitler’s speeches. Trump at the time said he was given a copy of “Mein Kampf” by his friend Marty Davis, who he said was Jewish. Trump later said: “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them,” according to Vanity Fair.
In her book “Confidence Man,” New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman wrote that Davis “was not Jewish and gave Trump the book ‘My New Order’ because he thought he would find it ‘interesting.’”
Trump, who is running on a hard-line immigration platform, has previously used dehumanizing rhetoric to describe undocumented immigrants. Trump launched his 2016 campaign calling undocumented immigrants from Mexico “rapists” who brought in “drugs” and “crime.” Yet his latest statements come amid concerns among experts and historians that a second Trump term would be more extreme than his first. Trump has vowed to enact mass deportations and to reinstate his travel ban against people from Muslim-majority countries. The Washington Post also previously reported that Trump’s associates have discussed invoking the Insurrection Act on Inauguration Day to deploy the military for domestic law enforcement.
Last month, after Trump called his political opponents “vermin,” he drew rebuke from historians who compared it to the language of authoritarians.
With less than a month to go before the Iowa caucuses, Trump remains the clear polling leader in the GOP field. Trump’s remarks Tuesday — delivered with two Christmas trees in the backdrop — covered a range of topics, including Christmas (“When I was president we brought back the beautiful phrase Merry Christmas”); discrimination against Christians; subsidies for farmers; his indictments; his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen; and the death tax. He mocked President Biden; and painted a dark image of the country, claiming that the country is “in more danger now for World War Three than ever before.” And he reiterated his praise for Hungary’s right-wing populist leader Viktor Orban, who has championed “illiberal democracy,” describing him as a “great gentleman” and “the boss.”
The speech came hours after the Colorado Supreme Court barred Trump from running in the presidential primary in the state, ruling that he had participated in an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump, however, did not address the ruling at the Iowa event.
Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in a statement that “the Colorado Supreme Court issued a completely flawed decision tonight and we will swiftly file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court and a concurrent request for a stay of this deeply undemocratic decision.”