Washington: Donald Trump stated on Tuesday that he wouldn't become a dictator if re-elected as U.S. president, except "on day one." This follows warnings from Democrats and some Republicans who expressed concerns about the potential for the U.S. to turn into an autocracy if Trump wins the 2024 election. During a televised town hall event in Iowa, the Republican presidential candidate had to be asked twice to deny that he would abuse power for revenge against political opponents if he returns to the White House. Trump responded, "No. No. Other than day one," when pressed to deny becoming a "dictator" if he wins in November.
Trump clarified that on the mentioned "day one," he would use presidential powers to close the southern border with Mexico and expand oil drilling. Throughout his campaign speeches and TV appearances, Trump has frequently promised "retribution" against political opponents if he regains power, including targeting President Joe Biden, prosecutors, the Department of Justice, and the federal bureaucracy. Appearing at a Fox News event in Davenport, Iowa, Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, reiterated false claims about the 2020 election being stolen from him. He has refused to concede to Biden and continues to spread these baseless conspiracy theories, which played a role in the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Trump's rivals for the Republican nomination, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, are scheduled to participate in a televised debate on Wednesday at the University of Alabama. However, Trump will not attend, as he has skipped the three previous Republican debates. Biden's campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, responded to Trump's statements, saying, "Donald Trump has been telling us exactly what he will do if he's re-elected, and tonight he said he will be a dictator on day one. Americans should believe him."
Former U.S. Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican critic of Trump who co-chaired the congressional probe of the Capitol attack, warned that a Trump dictatorship is a "very real threat" if he wins re-election, as she promoted a memoir this week.