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    HomePoliticsTrump quotes Putin to call Biden ‘threat to democracy,’ reiterates anti-immigrant rhetoric...

    Trump quotes Putin to call Biden ‘threat to democracy,’ reiterates anti-immigrant rhetoric at New Hampshire rally



    CNN
     — 

    Former President Donald Trump on Saturday quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin to attack President Joe Biden as a “threat to democracy” and doubled down on language condemned for its ties to White supremacist rhetoric, saying at a campaign event in New Hampshire that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.”

    “Joe Biden is a threat to democracy. He’s a threat,” he told supporters at a rally in Durham, New Hampshire. “Even Vladimir Putin … says that Biden’s — and this is a quote – ‘politically motivated persecution of his political rival is very good for Russia because it shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others about democracy.’”

    Trump also praised two other authoritarian foreign leaders, calling Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban “highly respected” and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “very nice.”

    Trump’s comments align with a pattern of expressing fondness for foreign leaders who use anti-democratic measures to maintain power. They also come after the former president attempted to sidestep questions in a Fox News town hall about whether he would act as a dictator if reelected, saying he would not act as a dictator “except for Day 1.” Trump faces federal and state charges stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

    Trump also told the crowd on Saturday that immigrants “from all over the world” are “pouring into the country,” reiterating a phrase he used previously that sparked outcry from the Anti-Defamation League.

    “They’re poisoning the blood of our country. That’s what they’ve done,” Trump said. “They poison mental institutions and prisons all over the world, not just in South America … but all over the world. They’re coming into our country, from Africa, from Asia, all over the world.”

    The comments mark another instance of Trump using increasingly violent rhetoric in his campaign messaging. At his most recent campaign event in New Hampshire prior to his appearance Saturday, Trump used the word “vermin” to describe his political rivals, drawing broad condemnation, including from President Joe Biden, who likened his comments to “language you heard in Nazi Germany.”

    Following Trump’s use of the phrase in October, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt linked his language to ethnically motivated massacres in Pittsburgh in 2018 and El Paso, Texas, in 2019.

    “Insinuating that immigrants are ‘poisoning the blood of our country’ echoes nativist talking points and has the potential to cause real danger and violence. We have seen this kind of toxic rhetoric inspire real-world violence before in places like Pittsburgh and El Paso. It should have no place in our politics, period,” Greenblatt said in October.

    The former president is planning a widespread expansion of his first administration’s hardline immigration policies if he is elected to a second term in 2024, including rounding up undocumented immigrants already in the US and placing them in detention camps to await deportation, a source familiar with the plans told CNN last month.

    Trump on Saturday reiterated his proposal to “restore and expand” the travel bans he first implemented toward some countries in 2017 and pledged to “implement strong ideological screening for all illegal immigrants.” The travel ban targeted many Muslim-majority countries and African nations, leading critics to argue they were racially motivated.

    In a statement released Saturday night, Biden campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa said Trump “parroted Adolf Hitler” in his New Hampshire remarks.

    “Tonight Donald Trump channeled his role models as he parroted Adolf Hitler, praised Kim Jong Un, and quoted Vladimir Putin while running for president on a promise to rule as a dictator and threaten American democracy,” Moussa said. “He is betting he can win this election by scaring and dividing this country. He’s wrong. In 2020, Americans chose President Biden’s vision of hope and unity over Trump’s vision of fear and division — and they’ll do the same next November.”

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of the former president’s GOP rivals, said later Saturday that he hadn’t heard Trump’s comments in New Hampshire about immigrants “poisoning the blood of our country,” instead reiterating the “huge risk” that people who cross the border illegally pose to Americans, especially “military-aged males.”

    “We have to be smart about what we’re doing in this country,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Corydon, Iowa, when asked whether he believes this type of rhetoric should be used by someone who wants to lead the United States.

    “We’re going to be very tough on who’s able to come into this country, because I think that what’s going on now, at the border in particular, has been a total train wreck,” he added.

    Trump traveled to New Hampshire to lock down support as he tries to solidify his status as the 2024 Republican front-runner in the final weeks before the state’s first-in-the-nation GOP presidential primary.

    In his first trip to the Granite State in over a month, Trump held a rally in the college town of Durham in one of the state’s most liberal counties. He’ll follow that up with an event in Reno, Nevada, on Sunday and then Waterloo, Iowa, on Tuesday – his second visit to the Hawkeye State in a week.

    The burst of campaigning underscores an aggressive effort by Trump’s team to maintain his dominating lead when polls give way to actual voting. His advisers have privately voiced concerns that Trump supporters could simply assume he has a comfortable advantage in the race and is not reliant on their votes.

    “We are leading by a lot, but you have to go out and vote,” Trump told supporters Wednesday night in Coralville, Iowa.

    Trump’s visit to New Hampshire comes a day after rival DeSantis wrapped up his own one-day sojourn in the Granite State. It also comes as another opponent, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, appears to be gaining momentum there, punctuated by a recent endorsement by the state’s popular governor, Chris Sununu, who has long made clear his opposition to Trump’s candidacy.

    Sununu told reporters Tuesday that he believed the Republican primary in New Hampshire was a two-person race.

    “This is a race between two people. Nikki Haley and Donald Trump. That’s it … with all due respect to the other candidates,” Sununu said.

    Trump has bashed Sununu following the endorsement, saying at his Saturday rally, “He’s endorsed somebody that can’t win, has no chance of winning.”

    “He’s a selfish guy who can’t get elected anything right now,” Trump said of Sununu.

    It’s unclear what impact Sununu’s endorsement will have on the primary. A recent Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom poll in Iowa suggested DeSantis’ support there grew only nominally from an endorsement by another popular governor, Kim Reynolds.

    CNN/University of New Hampshire poll of likely voters in New Hampshire’s Republican primary released last month showed Trump with 42% support. Haley, his closest challenger, was at 20%.

    Trump is even more dominant in national polls. A Pew Research Center survey released Thursday found 52% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters name the former president as their top choice in the primary. His nearest challenger was DeSantis, at 14%.

    This story and headline have been updated with additional information.

    CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Alison Main, Kit Maher and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.

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