CNN anchor Jim Acosta and his panel criticized former President Donald Trump for what they deemed “an appeal to White Supremacists” following Trump’s use of language reminiscent of Nazi rhetoric during a rally. In October, Trump faced backlash for a passage in his Veterans Day speech that drew comparisons to Adolf Hitler, and for another instance where he claimed immigrants were “poisoning the blood” of the country.
During a CNN Newsroom segment, Acosta, joined by CNN analyst Ron Brownstein and author Ruth Ben-Ghiat, discussed Trump’s recent remarks at a rally in New Hampshire. Acosta labeled Trump’s comments as “an appeal to white supremacists,” and the panel delved into the historical context and implications of such rhetoric.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an NYU history professor and author, characterized Trump’s language as fascist rhetoric, drawing parallels to Nazi ideology and Mussolini’s speeches in Italy. She highlighted the dehumanizing nature of Trump’s comments and expressed concerns about how such rhetoric could lay the groundwork for repressive policies against immigrants.
Ron Brownstein, a CNN senior political analyst, emphasized the unprecedented nature of the current political landscape, likening it to the period before the Civil War. He noted the challenges posed by a faction within one of the major parties that appears not fully committed to American democracy, emphasizing the gravity of the situation.
The discussion also touched on the electoral implications, questioning why Trump continues to use such divisive language. Brownstein suggested that while there is an audience within the Republican coalition for such arguments, a substantial portion of voters has mobilized in multiple elections to resist this vision.
In conclusion, the panel acknowledged the existence of an audience for Trump’s rhetoric but questioned whether a majority of Americans would be willing to empower someone using language reminiscent of fascist leaders. The discussion highlighted the complex dynamics in American politics and the ongoing tension between different visions for the country’s future.
ACOSTA: All right. In the meantime, former President Donald Trump is again making some very incendiary comments about immigrants, talking about immigrants poisoning the blood of this country. He used that kind of rhetoric earlier today in New Hampshire. Why it sounds like an appeal to white supremacist because in many cases, it is an appeal to white supremacists. That’s next.
ACOSTA: ANOTHER TRUMP RALLY, MORE ATTACKS FROM FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP ON IMMIGRANTS. HERE HE WAS EARLIER TODAY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
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DONALD TRUMP: THEY ARE POISONING THE BLOOD OF OUR COUNTRY. THAT’S WHAT THEY HAVE DONE. THEY POISONED MENTAL INSTITUTIONS AND PRISONS ALL OVER THE WORLD. NOT JUST IN SOUTH AMERICA, NOT JUST THE THREE OR FOUR COUNTRIES THAT WE THINK ABOUT, BUT ALL OVER THE WORLD THEY’RE COMING INTO OUR COUNTRY FROM AFRICA, FROM ASIA, ALL OVER THE WORLD. THEY’RE POURING INTO OUR COUNTRY..
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ACOSTA: LET’S DISCUSS MORE NOW WITH CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST AND SENIOR EDITOR AT “THE ATLANTIC,” RON BROWNSTEIN AND NYU HISTORY PROFESSOR RUTH BEN-GHIAT. SHE’S THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK “STRONGMEN: MUSSOLINI TO THE PRESENT.”
GUYS, THANKS TO BOTH OF YOU. RUTH, I’M GLAD TO HAVE YOU BACK ON THE PROGRAM. LET ME START WITH YOU. YOU’VE STUDIED FASCIST RHETORIC, AUTOCRATS, AUTHORITARIAN LEADERS. YOU AND I HAVE TALKED ABOUT THIS SUBJECT MANY TIMES. WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU HEARD WHAT TRUMP HAD TO SAY EARLIER TODAY?
RUTH BEN-GHIAT: THIS IS, YOU KNOW, THIS IS FASCIST RHETORIC. THE WORRIES ABOUT POLLUTING THE BLOOD OF THE SUPERIOR RACE GO AS A STANDARD OF NAZISM. IT’S NOT JUST THE NAZIS. IT’S ALSO FASCISTS. IN ITALY MUSSOLINI LITERALLY TALKED ABOUT KILLING RATS, TO GO BACK TO TRUMP’S USE OF VERMIN IN AN EARLIER SPEECH. HE TALKED ABOUT KILLING RATS WHO WERE BRINGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES AND COMMUNISM INTO ITALY.
SO, YOU KNOW, THIS IS FASCIST RHETORIC AND HE’S USING IT FOR A VERY PRECISE PURPOSE. BUT WE ALSO WANT TO, YOU KNOW, ASK WHY HE’S USING IT NOW SO OFTEN. AND UNFORTUNATELY, THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN HAS MADE IT VERY CLEAR WHAT THEY WANT TO DO TO IMMIGRANTS. YOU KNOW, MASS DEPORTATIONS, MASS DETENTIONS, LIKELY ABUSES AND VIOLENCE IN THOSE OPERATIONS
AND, YOU KNOW, DEHUMANIZING IMMIGRANTS, WHICH IS WHAT THIS LANGUAGE DOES, IS A WAY TO GET AMERICANS PREPARED NOW TO ACCEPT THESE REPRESSIONS LATER ON. THAT’S WHAT’S SO TERRIBLE, AND THAT’S ALSO ANOTHER THING THAT’S SO FASCIST ABOUT THIS
ACOSTA: RON, I MEAN, HELP US LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE HERE IF YOU CAN. I MEAN, OBVIOUSLY, THE ELECTORAL CONCERNS, I MEAN, FOR THE REPUBLICANS. IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE SWING VOTERS IN PLACES LIKE SUBURBAN PHILADELPHIA OR MICHIGAN, WISCONSIN, GRAVITATING TO THIS KIND OF LANGUAGE AFTER THEY’VE ALREADY REJECTED IT BEFORE. I MEAN, THIS IS SOMETHING THAT ASSERTED TRUMP IN PREVIOUS ELECTIONS
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE, AS RUTH WAS SAYING, HE KEEPS GOING BACK TO THIS? HE’S BEEN DOING A LOT OF THIS LATELY OUT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL.
RON BROWNSTEIN: YES, WELL, FIRST OF ALL, IT’S GREAT TO BE ON WITH BOTH OF YOU. AND LIKE MANY PEOPLE, I’VE LEARNED A LOT ON THESE ISSUES IN THE LAST FEW YEARS FROM PROFESSOR BEN-GHIAT SO I’M REALLY GLAD TO BE HERE WITH YOU.
LOOK, THE BIG PICTURE IS THAT THE U.S. FACES A SITUATION THAT I BELIEVE WE HAVE NOT BEEN IN SINCE ARGUABLY THE TWO DECADES BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR. I MEAN, YOU REALLY HAVE TO GO BACK I THINK TO JOHN CALHOUN’S DOMINANCE AND THE SOUTH’S DOMINANCE IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN THE 1840S AND 1850S TO LOOK AT THE LAST TIME THE DOMINANT FACTION IN ONE OF OUR TWO PARTIES WAS NOT COMMITTED TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, AS WE HAVE UNDERSTOOD IT AND PRACTICED IT THROUGHOUT OUR HISTORY.
AND THIS IS AN EXTRAORDINARILY CHALLENGING AND IN MANY WAYS, OMINOUS SITUATION FOR THE COUNTRY WHATEVER HAPPENS IN THE 2024 ELECTION. TRUMP HAS SHOWN THERE IS AN AUDIENCE IN THE REPUBLICAN COALITION, IN PARTICULAR, FOR ALL OF THESE KINDS OF ARGUMENTS. YOU KNOW, IN POLLS WHILE HE WAS PRESIDENT 90 PERCENT OF REPUBLICANS SAID CHRISTIANITY IN THE U.S. IS UNDER ATTACK. THREE-QUARTERS SAID THAT DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WHITES IS NOW AS BIG A PROBLEM AS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MINORITIES.
AND IN MULTIPLE POLLS, JIM, 55 PERCENT TO 60 PERCENT OF REPUBLICANS SAID THE TRADITIONAL WAY OF AMERICAN LIFE IS DISAPPEARING SO FAST THAT TRUE PATRIOTS MAY HAVE TO USE FORCE TO PRESERVE IT. SO THERE IS AN AUDIENCE FOR THIS. BUT AS YOU KNOW, THERE IS ALSO A SUBSTANTIAL AUDIENCE THAT’S BEEN MOBILIZED IN THREE CONSECUTIVE ELECTIONS TO PREVENT THIS VISION FROM BEING IMPLEMENTED. AND YOU KNOW, WE ARE IN A POSITION NOW WHERE A MAJORITY OF VOTERS ARE UNHAPPY ABOUT THE ECONOMY, DISCONTENTED ABOUT BIDEN, MAYBE THINK HE’S TOO OLD TO RUN FOR ANOTHER TERM, BUT IT’S A VERY DIFFERENT PROPOSITION TO SAY THAT MOST AMERICANS IN THE END WILL BE ABLE TO — WOULD BE WILLING TO EMPOWER SOMEONE TALKING SO EXPLICITLY AS THE PROFESSOR SAID ECHOING FASCIST LEADERS FROM THE DARKEST MOMENTS OF THE 20TH CENTURY.
I’VE SAID TO YOU BEFORE AND I BELIEVE AGAIN, TRUMP THROWS BIDEN LIFELINES EVERY DAY. VOTERS ARE UNHAPPY WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING IN THE COUNTRY, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY ARE WILLING TO GO IN THIS DIRECTION EITHER