— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 8, 2016
Remember when Donald Trump asked attendees at a political rally in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday to raise their right hands and pledge to vote for him? (How could you not? It only happened three days ago.) Despite the Republican presidential candidate’s rambling pledge, which asked everyone in the rally to vote for him in the state’s primary on March 15, everyone else who saw the striking image of a large crowd with right hands raised drew another, more obvious comparison. One that, according to Trump himself, wasn’t that obvious.
Or at least that’s what the New York real-estate mogul told Today co-host Savannah Guthrie when she quoted remarks made by former Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman in an interview with The Times of Israel. Foxman had called Trump’s hand-raising “a fascist gesture” and that Trump was “smart enough” to know what it signified. “Instead of asking his audience to pledge allegiance to the United States of America, which in itself would be a little bizarre,” Foxman explained, “he’s asking them to swear allegiance to him.”
Trump disagreed, telling Guthrie and fellow Today co-host Matt Lauer that he didn’t think anything was wrong with the pledge until they’d brought up the subject during the Tuesday morning interview.
“Well, I think it’s ridiculous. We’re having such a great time. Yesterday, I had 20,000 people in Mississippi. I had tremendous crowds in Michigan. And sometimes we’ll do it for fun, and they’ll start screaming at me, ‘Do the swear-in! Do the swear-in!’ They’re having such a great time,” Trump said in response. “Honestly, until this phone call, I didn’t know it was a problem.”
The Republican front-runner emphasized how much the Orlando rally attendees, and audiences at subsequent rallies, had enjoyed the pledge. Because of this, he seemed to argue, there wasn’t really anything wrong with having the crowds raise their right hands and participate.
So when Lauer brought up the fact that such an image, combined with Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and international affairs, might bring to mind “images of Nazi Germany,” the candidate scoffed at the suggestion.
“Well, I think that’s a big, big stretch,” he said, adding, “I don’t want to offend anybody. But I can tell you that it’s been amazingly received, well-received.”
Apparently Trump (or Trump’s current not-yet-fired social media intern) doesn’t check his mentions on Twitter, as it was probably busier than usual with Nazi and Adolf Hitler-themed Photoshops on Saturday.
(Via Talking Points Memo)