March 5, 2024

Former President Donald J. Trump’s campaign rejected criticism that he was echoing the language of fascist dictators with his vow to root out his political opponents like “vermin,” then doubled down: It said on Monday that the “sad, miserable existence” of those who made such comparisons would be “crushed” with Mr. Trump back in the White House.

“Those who try to make that ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome,” a campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, said, “and their sad, miserable existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House.”

At a campaign event Saturday in New Hampshire, Mr. Trump vowed to “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.” He then said his political opposition was the most pressing and pernicious threat facing America.

“The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous and grave than the threat from within,” Mr. Trump said. “Our threat is from within.”

The former president’s remarks drew criticism from some liberals and historians who pointed to echoes of dehumanizing rhetoric wielded by fascist dictators like Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

An earlier version of Mr. Cheung’s statement, in which he said the “entire existence” of those critics would be crushed, was reported by The Washington Post on Sunday. Mr. Cheung said on Monday that he edited his initial statement “seconds” after sending it, and The Post amended its article to include both versions.

Ammar Moussa, a spokesman for President Biden’s re-election campaign, said in a statement that Mr. Trump at his Veterans Day speech had “parroted the autocratic language” of “dictators many U.S. veterans gave their lives fighting, in order to defeat exactly the kind of un-American ideas Trump now champions.”

Though violent language was a feature of Mr. Trump’s last two campaigns, his speeches have grown more extreme as he tries to win a second term.

At recent rallies and events, Mr. Trump has compared immigrants coming over the border to Hannibal Lecter, the fictional serial killer and cannibal from the horror movie “The Silence of the Lambs.”

He called on shoplifters to be shot in a speech in California, and over the weekend in New Hampshire, he again called for drug dealers to be subject to the death penalty. He has insinuated that a military general whom he appointed as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be executed for treason.

Last month, Mr. Trump told a right-wing website that migrants were “poisoning the blood of our country,” a phrase recalling white supremacist ideology and comments made by Hitler in his manifesto “Mein Kampf.”

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