Trump, Attacked for Echoing Hitler, Says He Never Read ‘Mein Kampf’

Former President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday doubled down on his widely condemned comment that undocumented immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country,” rebuffing criticism that the language echoed Adolf Hitler by insisting that he had never read the Nazi dictator’s autobiographical manifesto.

Mr. Trump did not repeat the exact phrase, which has drawn criticism since he first uttered it in an interview with a right-leaning website and then repeated it at a rally in New Hampshire on Saturday.

But he said on Tuesday night in a speech in Iowa that undocumented immigrants from Africa, Asia and South America were “destroying the blood of our country,” before alluding to his previous comments.

“That’s what they’re doing. They’re destroying our country,” Mr. Trump continued. “They don’t like it when I said that. And I never read ‘Mein Kampf.’ They said, ‘Oh, Hitler said that.’”

He added that Hitler said it “in a much different way,” without making his meaning clear.

Undocumented immigrants, he added, “could be healthy. They could be very unhealthy. They could bring in disease that’s going to catch on in our country.” And he again said that they were “destroying the blood of our country” and “destroying the fabric of our country.”

Mr. Trump and his campaign have dismissed the comparisons between his remark and language used by Hitler using the words “poison” and “blood” to denigrate those who Hitler deemed a threat to the purity of the Aryan race.

In one chapter of “Mein Kampf” named “Race and People,” Hitler wrote, “All the great civilizations of the past became decadent because the originally creative race died out, as a result of contamination of the blood.” In another passage, he links “the poison which has invaded the national body” to an “influx of foreign blood.”

Mr. Trump’s comment was widely criticized as racist and xenophobic, and the Biden administration has recently drawn more attention to the comparison.

Some Senate Republicans also criticized the remark this week, including Mitch McConnell, the body’s top Republican. But others embraced the language, including Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio, who said that it was “objectively and obviously true” that “illegal immigrants were poisoning the blood of the country.”

Mr. Trump has made anti-immigrant sentiments a centerpiece of his past political campaigns, and as he runs for the White House for the third time, his tone has grown harsher. He was also accused of echoing the dehumanizing language of fascist dictators, including Hitler, when he described his political opponents as “vermin” that needed to be rooted out.

In his speech on Tuesday, he once again claimed that leaders of unspecified countries were emptying prisons and mental institutions and sending their inhabitants to the United States, a broad claim for which there is no clear evidence.

Mr. Trump also used his speech to issue a defense of Christians in America, who he portrayed as being under attack by Democrats. As he stood between two Christmas trees, Mr. Trump said he would create a “federal task force on fighting anti-Christian bias” to investigate any “discrimination, harassment and persecution.” He added, “They are going after Christians in America.”

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