Biden condemns Trump's 'vermin' remark, compares it to Nazi rhetoric
Trump has denied his rhetoric has any association to dictators in the past.
In another sign President Joe Biden is resharpening his attacks on former President Donald Trump ahead of their potential rematch next year, he condemned Trump for comparing political enemies to "vermin" and saying some immigrants were "poisoning the blood of our country."
Biden suggested those phrases were intentional reminders of Nazi Germany as the former president vows vengeance against his opponents.
"In just the last few days, Trump has said if he returns to office, he's going to go after all those who oppose him and wipe out what he called the 'vermin' -- quote, the 'vermin' in America. A specific phrase with a specific meaning," he said Tuesday evening at a fundraiser in San Francisco. "It echoes language you heard in Nazi Germany in the '30s. And it isn't even the first time."
"Trump also recently talked about, quote, 'the blood of America is being poisoned' -- 'the blood of America is being poisoned.' Again, echoes the same phrases used in Nazi Germany," he said. "Folks, we can't fail. We can't fail to treat the threat that he poses. I mean, we can't."
Trump's campaign has dismissed any association between his rhetoric and that of infamous 20th-century dictators like Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini.
But Biden's criticism reflects his larger argument for why Trump is unqualified for the presidency: Biden says he is a "MAGA" extremist who could harm American democracy -- especially in the wake of Jan. 6 -- and taint its values.
He largely focused on that message in the 2020 race and is expected to again while contending he has a track record of success to overcome his poor poll numbers and the public's disapproval of his handling of the economy.
Trump, for his part, has warned that Biden doesn’t deserve a second term because of what Trump calls his mishandling of border security, foreign policy, energy independence, inflation and more.
Some Biden supporters and outside progressive groups have urged him to challenge Trump directly.
"Donald Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy American democracy," Biden said Tuesday night. "Folks, democracy is on the ballot again. We need you. Indeed, we need every American who loves our democracy, Democrats, independents, Republicans to join together in 2024. ... The choice facing us cannot be any more stark."
Trump's spokesperson has denied his rhetoric echoes dictators, though some historians agreed with Biden that the language carries a specific connotation.
The comments were "remarkably evocative particularly of Hitler's rants against Marxists and socialists. Hitler also decried pro-democratic forces as Marxist," Yale University professor Jason Stanley, author of "How Fascism Works," told ABC News.
Steven Cheung, a Trump spokesperson, pushed back in a in a statement this week. "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," he said.
Trump vowed in a speech on Saturday to "root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country" if elected to a second term. He warned that the country's greatest threats come "from within."
He went on to boast of his own leadership compared with Biden.
"If you have a capable, competent, smart, tough leader -- Russia, China, North Korea, they're not gonna want to play with us," he said.
The "vermin" comment stirred quick backlash.
The front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination also faced outcry for saying in October that immigrants who are in the country without documentation were "poisoning the blood of our country." He's previously used such language over the years to discuss heroin and fentanyl coming over the border.
Facing weak polling, Biden sharpens stump speech against Trump
In the face of a growing string of poor poll numbers, including weak approval ratings and surveys that show him losing to Trump in key swing states, Biden and his team have maintained they have another year before the election to make their case to the public.
For months, he has tried to build enthusiasm for how he's handled the economy and addressed inflation -- with the "Bidenomics" label -- while rallying voters around Democratic wins since he's been in office. That includes victories last week in a number of state elections, which he called "a pretty good day for Joe."
On Tuesday night, he hit Trump on abortion in particular, as Republicans struggle with the issue.
"The only reason there is an abortion ban in America is because of Donald Trump," Biden said, referring to how three of the Supreme Court justices who struck down Roe v. Wade's abortion protections were named by Trump.
"Remember when Trump told us he was going to win so much we'd get tired of winning? Oh, man. I shouldn't get started," Biden continued, in what's swiftly becoming a stump line for 2024. "Let me tell you one thing is true. We got tired of Trump. Truth is the guy can't get tired of losing."
Biden also condemned Trump for mocking former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul, after he was attacked in his home with a hammer to the head last year.
"A lot of reasons to be against Donald Trump, but damn he shouldn't be president," Biden said.
This week, his campaign also kicked off a series it says will highlight "Trump's America in 2025," starting with immigration and abortion.