Tuesday on NBC’s “Today,” Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump was asked about a pledge performed at his campaign rallies that some have compared to a salute from Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.
Despite being asked repeatedly by “Today” co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer, Trump dismissed those analogies, but he later vowed to “look into it” to determine if it was offensive.
Partial transcript as follows:
GUTHRIE: Mr. Trump, I’d like to ask you about something you’ve been doing rather recently at your rallies, which is having your supporters raise their right hand and say, “I pledge to vote for Donald Trump.” Now, as you know, a still image of that at your rallies has gone around the Internet and some people have been quite disturbed by that image. And in fact, Abe Foxman, who’s a holocaust survivor, says it reminds him of the Nazi salute. I wonder how you feel about that comparison and whether it would make you want to perhaps not do it anymore, if people do feel that way?
TRUMP: Well, I think it’s ridiculous. I mean, 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 say — they’ll start screaming at me, “Do the swear in. Do the swear in.” I mean, they’re — they’re having such a great time. They’re massive crowds. I get, you know, by far the biggest crowds and we’re having a good time. Honestly, until this phone call, I didn’t know it was a problem. We were all — you know — and — and…
GUTHRIE: Well, in light of that, does that make you…
TRUMP: I’ll tell you what…
GUTHRIE: … reflect on it?
TRUMP: … almost everybody in the room — almost everybody in the room raises their hand. We’re having a good time. I never knew it was a problem.
LAUER: I think it’s also in combination, Mr. Trump, with some of the rhetoric you’ve used on the campaign trail over the last several months, targeting groups like Muslims and Mexicans, that — that evokes images of Nazi Germany and the scapegoating of Jews there back in the 1930s and ’40s.
TRUMP: Well, I think that’s a big, big stretch. I mean, honestly, Matt, I’ve been — we’ve been having such an amazing — we’ve been having rallies that are massive. Yesterday, in Mississippi and two days ago in Orlando, we had 25,000 people fill up the stadium. It was incredible.
You know, we’re having these incredible rallies. Considering the subject matter is not so good, because our country is in trouble, big trouble, we are having a great time. And you know, part of this is that. You know, that — this would be brought up this morning, I’m very surprised to hear it.
GUTHRIE: Does it bother you?
TRUMP: Certainly, if there’s anything — if it’s offensive, if there’s anything wrong with it, I wouldn’t do it. But when I say, “Raise your hand,” everybody raises their hand. They’re screaming to me to do it, “We want to do it.” And it’s really — you know, we’re all having a lot of fun. I never thought it was anything offensive.
LAUER: But let’s just be clear, though — so because you now know that it is offensive to some people, will you say, “OK, let’s not do this in the future?”
TRUMP: Well, I’ll certainly look into it. I mean, I’d like to find out that that’s true. But I would certainly look into it because I don’t want to offend anybody. But I can tell you that it’s been — it’s been amazingly received — well received. But I will certainly look into that, Matt.
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