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Trump reiterates anti-immigrant rhetoric at New Hampshire rally


By Aaron Pellish and Steve Contorno, CNN

(CNN) — Former President Donald Trump doubled down on language condemned for its ties to White supremacist rhetoric, saying at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Saturday that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.”

The comments mark another instance of Trump using increasingly violent rhetoric in his campaign messaging. At his most recent campaign event in New Hampshire prior to his appearance Saturday, Trump used the word “vermin” to describe his political rivals, drawing broad condemnation, including from President Joe Biden, who likened his comments to “language you heard in Nazi Germany.”

Trump told a crowd gathered in Durham, New Hampshire, on Saturday that immigrants “from all over the world” are “pouring into the country,” reiterating a phrase he used previously that sparked outcry from the Anti-Defamation League.

“They’re poisoning the blood of our country. That’s what they’ve done,” Trump said. “They poison mental institutions and prisons all over the world, not just in South America … but all over the world. They’re coming into our country, from Africa, from Asia, all over the world.”

Following Trump’s use of the phrase in October, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt linked his language to ethnically motivated massacres in Pittsburgh in 2018 and El Paso, Texas, in 2019.

“Insinuating that immigrants are ‘poisoning the blood of our country’ echoes nativist talking points and has the potential to cause real danger and violence. We have seen this kind of toxic rhetoric inspire real-world violence before in places like Pittsburgh and El Paso. It should have no place in our politics, period,” Greenblatt said in October.

The former president is planning a widespread expansion of his first administration’s hardline immigration policies if he is elected to a second term in 2024, including rounding up undocumented immigrants already in the US and placing them in detention camps to await deportation, a source familiar with the plans told CNN last month.

Trump on Saturday reiterated his proposal to “restore and expand” the travel bans he first implemented toward some countries in 2017 and pledged to “implement strong ideological screening for all illegal immigrants.” The travel ban targeted many Muslim-majority countries and African nations, leading critics to argue they were racially motivated.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of the former president’s GOP rivals, said later Saturday that he hadn’t heard Trump’s comments in New Hampshire about immigrants “poisoning the blood of our country,” instead reiterating the “huge risk” that people who cross the border illegally pose to Americans, especially “military-aged males.”

“We have to be smart about what we’re doing in this country,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Corydon, Iowa, when asked whether he believes this type of rhetoric should be used by someone who wants to lead the United States.

“We’re going to be very tough on who’s able to come into this country, because I think that what’s going on now, at the border in particular, has been a total train wreck,” he added.

Trump traveled to New Hampshire to lock down support as he tries to solidify his status as the 2024 Republican front-runner in the final weeks before the state’s first-in-the-nation GOP presidential primary.

In his first trip to the Granite State in over a month, Trump held a rally in the college town of Durham in one of the state’s most liberal counties. He’ll follow that up with an event in Reno, Nevada, on Sunday and then Waterloo, Iowa, on Tuesday – his second visit to the Hawkeye State in a week.

The burst of campaigning underscores an aggressive effort by Trump’s team to maintain his dominating lead when polls give way to actual voting. His advisers have privately voiced concerns that Trump supporters could simply assume he has a comfortable advantage in the race and is not reliant on their votes.

“We are leading by a lot, but you have to go out and vote,” Trump told supporters Wednesday night in Coralville, Iowa.

Trump’s visit to New Hampshire comes a day after rival DeSantis wrapped up his own one-day sojourn in the Granite State. It also comes as another opponent, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, appears to be gaining momentum there, punctuated by a recent endorsement by the state’s popular governor, Chris Sununu, who has long made clear his opposition to Trump’s candidacy.

Sununu told reporters Tuesday that he believed the Republican primary in New Hampshire was a two-person race.

“This is a race between two people. Nikki Haley and Donald Trump. That’s it … with all due respect to the other candidates,” Sununu said.

Trump has bashed Sununu following the endorsement, saying at his Saturday rally, “He’s endorsed somebody that can’t win, has no chance of winning.”

“He’s a selfish guy who can’t get elected anything right now,” Trump said of Sununu.

It’s unclear what impact Sununu’s endorsement will have on the primary. A recent Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom poll in Iowa suggested DeSantis’ support there grew only nominally from an endorsement by another popular governor, Kim Reynolds.

A CNN/University of New Hampshire poll of likely voters in New Hampshire’s Republican primary released last month showed Trump with 42% support. Haley, his closest challenger, was at 20%.

Trump is even more dominant in national polls. A Pew Research Center survey released Thursday found 52% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters name the former president as their top choice in the primary. His nearest challenger was DeSantis, at 14%.

At his Saturday rally, Trump looked ahead to a potential general-election rematch with Biden, using the holiday season to take stock of what he labeled the president’s “failures and disasters” on the economy. Trump pointed to the “catastrophe” of inflation and “sky-high energy prices.” He conceded that the stock market is performing well but framed the market’s strength as a benefit only for “rich people.”

“During this holiday season, families all across America struggling under the brutal weight of crooked Joe’s failures, disasters and heartless betrayals,” Trump said. “While the stock market is making rich people richer, Biden’s inflation catastrophe is demolishing your savings and ravaging your dreams.”

But new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Tuesday showed falling energy prices have contributed to bringing wholesale inflation below pre-pandemic levels. The following day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke its record high following the Federal Reserve’s announcement that it would keep interest rates steady, with rate cuts forecast for 2024.

This story and headline have been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Alison Main, Kit Maher and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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