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Donald Trump Comments on Dictatorship: Joke or Threat?

Former United States President Donald Trump attended a town hall event hosted by Fox News Sean Hannity in Davenport, Iowa on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. The event took place the night before the fourth Republican debate in Alabama, which Trump will not be attending. He also did not attend the first three despite running for the 2024 election and being ahead of his competitors of the same party by 20 points.

During the town hall, Hannity raised a question about the misuse of authority. He’s quoted asking Trump, “Under no circumstances, you are promising America tonight, you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?”

Trump responded by saying “Except for day one.” He goes on to explain that he would use his power as President to officially close the Mexico–United States border and expand drilling for oil. “After that, I’m not a dictator,” he said.

Hannity asks once more if he would abuse his power by using the government to go against people if he was to be re-elected. Trump responded with “You mean like they’re using right now?” Giving no clarity on whether or not he would use his position as president as retribution.

These recent comments allow the runner-ups of his party to either accept or deny whether or not authoritarianism is a possible outcome of the Republican Party, offering mixed reactions at the debate on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023. 

While some Republicans saw Trump's remarks as a joke or just “Trump being Trump,” members of the Democrat Party see it as a promise and a threat. Both Biden and Trump believe the other is putting democracy at risk in the United States. 

Biden-Harris 2024 campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez says that “Americans should believe him,” reiterating the fact that he will choose to be a dictator on day one. It seems that the United States is heading into familiar territory as the 2024 election sneaks up with familiar names Biden and Trump seem to be leading the polls of their respective parties.

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