GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has responded to allegations that he is encouraging supporters to imitate Nazi salutes at rallies, saying the suggestion is “crazy” and “ridiculous”.
“Honestly, until this phone call, I didn’t realize it was a problem,” Trump said on NBC’s Today show.
Trump urged that his supporters are just “having a good time” and want to show their loyalty by raising their right hands in a pledge to vote for the anti-establishment candidate.
Photographs of Trump supporters pledging to vote for him by raising their hands at a rally were shunted around social media at the weekend, with serious claims from detractors that they were imitating ‘Heil Hitler’ type salutes.
— Tal Kopan (@TalKopan) March 5, 2016
“If it’s offensive, if there’s anything wrong with it, I wouldn’t do it,” Trump added, promising to “look into” the matter, saying it is a “big big stretch” to compare the pledge to a Nazi salute.
“They’re raising their hand in the form of a vote, not in the form of a salute,” Trump also told MSNBC’s Morning Joe, adding that the fact the issue has gotten any media attention is “crazy.”
Trump again called for his supporters to make the pledge Monday in North Carolina and Mississippi.
“Should we do the pledge? Should we do the pledge?” the billionaire asked supporters. “Raise your hand: ‘I swear I’m going to vote for Donald Trump next week, I swear.'”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 7, 2016
The perpetually offended weighed in on Trump’s gesture, with Abraham Foxman, a former director of the Anti-Defamation League suggesting that Trump’s pledge is highly offensive.
“As a Jew who survived the Holocaust, to see an audience of thousands of people raising their hands in what looks like the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute is about as offensive, obnoxious and disgusting as anything I thought I would ever witness in the United States of America,” Foxman said.
“We’ve seen this sort of thing at rallies of neo-Nazis. We’ve seen it at rallies of white supremacists. But to see it at a rally for a legitimate candidate for the presidency of the United States is outrageous.” Foxman added.
The accusations have come along with media talking heads declaring that Trump will throw people in camps and that voters have to concentrate on “stopping us from being Nazi Germany” by derailing Trump.
Meanwhile, Saturday Night Live put together a skit featuring “real Americans” dressed in KKK and Nazi garb declaring that they were Trump supporters.