Mr Trump, 77, spoke in Claremont, New Hampshire, telling the crowd in his usual grievance-laden parlance: “We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections.”
The former president has refused to accept the results of the 2020 election and continues to lie, falsely claiming that it was stolen.
“They’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American Dream,” Mr Trump said.
“The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within,” he said. “Our threat is from within. Because if you have a capable, competent, smart, tough leader, Russia, China, North Korea, they’re not going to want to play with us.”
The former president referred to himself as a “very proud election denier”. He also took aim at his deepening legal woes, again targeting the judge in his civil fraud trial in New York and going after Special Counsel Jack Smith. Mr Trump claimed that the prosecutions against him were politically motivated.
Mr Trump employing the word “vermin” was criticised by historians speaking to The Post.
A senior research scholar at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, Timothy Naftali, told the paper that “the language is the language that dictators use to instil fear” and that “when you dehumanize an opponent, you strip them of their constitutional rights to participate securely in a democracy because you’re saying they’re not human. That’s what dictators do”.
New York University historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat wrote to the paper that “calling people ‘vermin’ was used effectively by Hitler and Mussolini to dehumanize people and encourage their followers to engage in violence”.
“Trump is also using projection: note that he mentions all kinds of authoritarians ‘communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left’ to set himself up as the deliverer of freedom,” she said. “Mussolini promised freedom to his people too and then declared dictatorship.”
The spokesperson for the Trump campaign, Steven Cheung, told the paper that “those who try to make that ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome and their entire existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House”.
The White House and the Biden campaign also criticised Mr Trump for his use of “vermin,” with Biden campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa saying in a statement “On a weekend when most Americans were honoring our nation’s heroes, Donald Trump parroted the autocratic language of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini – two dictators many US veterans gave their lives fighting,” according to Reuters.
“Donald Trump thinks he can win by dividing our country. He’s wrong, and he’ll find out just how wrong next November,” the spokesperson added.
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement that “using terms like that about dissent would be unrecognizable to our founders, but horrifyingly recognizable to American veterans who put on their country’s uniform in the 1940s”.