(JTA) — Speaking at an Iowa presidential rally on Tuesday, Donald Trump denied lifting a phrase describing immigrants as “poisoning the blood of our country” from Adolf Hitler’s manifesto.
“They don’t like it when I said that,” the former and hopeful president said. “And I never read ‘Mein Kampf.’ They said, ‘Oh, Hitler said that’ — in a much different way.”
The comments come as President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign focuses on Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric, most recently honing in on an interview last week in which Trump used a phrase that Biden and others said echoed Hitler’s rhetoric.
“It is a very sad thing for our country,” Trump told The National Pulse, a conservative webcast, after being asked about immigrants on the southern border. “It’s poisoning the blood of our country. It’s so bad, and people are coming in with disease. People are coming in with every possible thing that you could have.”
The New York Times and other news sites identified similar phrases in “Mein Kampf,” the autobiography Hitler published before his rise to power. “All the great civilizations of the past became decadent because the originally creative race died out, as a result of contamination of the blood,” was one such passage, the Times said. A number of media outlets noted that Trump’s late first wife, Ivana Trump, once reported that he kept a book of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside.
The Biden campaign seized on the statement to depict Trump as posing a threat to democracy.
“Donald Trump is parroting autocrats like Hitler and Mussolini, claiming that immigrants are ‘poisoning the blood of our country’ and calling his political enemies ‘vermin,'” it said in a release on Tuesday.
Trump’s spokesmen have said the phrase is normal and not racist.
The Anti-Defamation League did not draw an analogy to Hitler but said the phrase was dangerous, tying it to two recent deadly attacks spurred in part by antisemitic conspiracy theories.
“Saying that immigrants are ‘poisoning the blood of our country’ echoes nativist talking points and has the potential to cause real danger and violence,” the ADL said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “We have seen this kind of toxic rhetoric inspire real-world violence before in places like Pittsburgh and El Paso.”