March 4, 2024

As The New Republic’s editor, Michael Tomasky, pointed out, the word “vermin” has a fairly noteworthy place in the history of political rhetoric. “To announce that the real enemy is domestic and then to speak of that enemy in subhuman terms is Fascism 101,” he wrote. “Especially that particular word.” Nevertheless, Trump’s dangerous new escalation was met with a muted reception by press and politicians, its similarities to the fascist speeches of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini completely lost on them.

Those remarks not only failed to damage Trump’s numbers in the polls—they may have actually improved them, according to an MSNBC analysis. Days after the speech, once Trump’s name had been paired with Hitler’s in a couple of headlines, Republican support for Trump jumped by 2 percent, from 56.6 percent to 58.6 percent, according to polling averages by FiveThirtyEight. Two weeks later, that number edged closer to 60 percent.

Naturally, Republican officials didn’t bat an eye at the explosive comments from their party leader. Days after Trump’s speech, former Ambassador Nikki Haley told an Iowa crowd that she simply didn’t agree with Trump’s position, while Senator Lindsey Graham told HuffPost that he doesn’t use “that kind of language, but it’s a free country.” If Trump can be taken at his word, perhaps not for much longer.