Trump claims he's never read Hitler’s "Mein Kampf," as he doubles down on anti-immigrant phrase

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump looks on during a campaign event on Dec. 19, 2023 in Waterloo, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday night at a campaign stop in Iowa that he has not read Mein Kampf, the manifesto written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Trump made the statement following recent criticism comparing his words over undocumented immigrants to those used by Hitler in the lead-up to World War II.

While he distanced himself from the controversial book, Trump doubled down on his previous comments about undocumented immigrants.

“They’re destroying the blood of our country,” Trump said about the waves of migrants who have crossed the border. “They're ruining our country. And it's true they’re destroying the blood of our country. That's what they're doing. They're destroying our country.”

Throughout the 2024 election cycle, the former president has said people who cross the border illegally are "poisoning the blood" on multiple occasions. Recently, he has ramped up the use of the phrase during his latest campaign speeches. This has drawn criticism from those who claim that Hitler and white supremacists use similar language, pointing to the fact that Hitler wrote about "blood poisoning" in Mein Kampf.

After telling the crowd he had never read Hitler’s book, Trump went on to say that Hitler used the phrase "in a much different way."

“They don't like it when I said that -- and I never read Mein Kampf. They said, ‘Oh, Hitler said that’ - in a much different way. No, they're coming from all over the world. People all over the world,” Trump told those at his Iowa event.

Trump continued to use disparaging language when talking about immigrants who have crossed the border, accusing them of bringing in crime and destroying “the fabric of our country.”

“They could bring in disease that's going to catch on in our country, but they do bring in crime. … They're destroying the blood of our country. They're destroying the fabric of our country,” he said.

The remarks were made during Trump’s Christmas rally in Waterloo, Iowa, where the festivities were outshined by breaking legal news regarding Trump’s eligibility to appear on Colorado’s presidential primary ballot.

The state Supreme Court ruled late Tuesday that the former president is ineligible to run for president in 2024 based on the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban, stemming from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s campaign quickly vowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Despite news of the ruling breaking roughly an hour before Trump took the stage, the former president did not directly mention it. Instead, he stuck to his usual unsubstantiated claims that President Joe Biden is responsible for the investigations into him while accusing Biden and Democrats of being “willing to violate the U.S. Constitution at levels never seen before in order to win this election.”

"Joe Biden is a threat to democracy, he’s a threat," Trump continued. "They're weaponizing law enforcement for high-level election interference because we're beating them so badly in the polls."

Trump kicked off his speech earlier in the night by attempting to lower expectations for Iowa caucus results while still boasting about his lead in the polls.

"This is really important -- our country's at stake. We have a country that's never been in trouble like it is right now. So get out and vote whether we're leading in the polls or not leading in the polls," Trump told his supporters.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023 at 7:00AM by Lalee Ibssa , Benjamin Siegel and Soo Rin Kim, ABC News Permalink