Trump is sounding nuttier 

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As the election is getting closer, Donald Trump is sounding nuttier.

In recent weeks, he accused President Joe Biden of trying to assassinate him, demanded a drug test to see if Biden uses drugs to improve political performances, hailed a fictional murderer as “a great man” and called the nation’s bloodiest Civil War battle “beautiful.”

To be clear, none of this is true.

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Meanwhile, his campaign, in what officials contended was a staffer’s mistake, issued a video linking a potential Trump victory to “the creation of a Unified Reich,” the latest invocation of Nazi memes by a man who once said, “Hitler did some good things.” And not for the first time, he suggested he yearns to serve beyond the constitutional limit of the second term he is seeking this November.

If anyone still sees the 2024 presidential race as a standard clash between a Republican and a Democrat, a closer look at what Trump is saying should disabuse them of that belief.

Par for the course?: Many Trump supporters dismiss the crazier things he says as “typical Trump” and suggest they won’t matter. “It’s baked into the cake,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres told The Washington Post, calling it “par for the course.”

This is reminiscent of those post-2020 election reassurances from top Republicans that Trump would soon accept the result, something he still has not done nearly four years later.

In attacking Biden, Trump often goes beyond the usual criticism of political opponents by using epithets like “crooked” or “crazy,” insults more accurately applied to himself.

“He is mentally unfit to hold office,” Trump contended in a recent post on his Truth Social platform, suggesting a need to invoke the 25th Amendment — intended to replace a president unable to discharge his duties. Ironically, a few Trump Cabinet members considered that remedy after the Jan. 6, 2021, attempt by Trump supporters to overturn the 2020 result.

And though Trump has threatened to investigate “the Biden crime family” if he wins, he simultaneously accuses Biden of the “weaponization of our government to try and knock out somebody’s political opponent.” He repeatedly blames Biden for the four pending criminal cases against him, though two were brought by local prosecutors in New York and Atlanta and two by the independent special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Last week, Trump raised the level of his accusations to accuse Biden of trying to kill him.

In a fundraising appeal, he claimed “Joe Biden was locked & loaded ready to take me out” in the August 2022 raid for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. And Trump said on Truth Social that he was “shown Reports” that Biden’s DOJ AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE” in searching his property.

(Trump supporter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene went even further, declaring in a post on X, formerly Twitter, “The Biden DOJ and FBI were planning to assassinate Pres Trump and gave the green light.”)

In fact, the FBI said it deliberately timed the raid for a time when Trump was away and that agents followed standard protocol, which limits the use of deadly force unless it is specifically ordered, which it wasn’t.

Trump’s accusation that Biden uses performance enhancing drugs is not new but has accelerated since the two agreed to debate June 27.

“I’m gonna demand a drug test,” Trump told the recent Minnesota Republican Party’s Lincoln Reagan Dinner. “I don’t want him coming in like the State of the Union, he was high as a kite.”

Denying Trump’s charge, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said, “Republican officials mistake confidence for a drug.”

Say what?: Trump has often said inexplicable things during his hour-long rally speeches.

In New Jersey recently, he invoked Hannibal Lecter, the crazed fictional killer, in assailing illegal immigrants.

“Has anyone ever seen ‘The Silence of the Lambs?’” he asked. “The late, great Hannibal Lecter. He’s a wonderful man.” The psychotic serial killer was known for eating his victims in the Oscar-winning film. Trump then segued into a standard riff on the danger of illegal immigrants.

According to The New York Times, he seemed to be comparing the immigrants he frequently says – without evidence – come from ‘insane asylums” and “mental institutions” to the fictional killer, which made his characterization of Lecter as “a wonderful man” even odder – unless it was sarcastic

At an earlier rally near the Civil War’s Gettysburg battleground, the presumptive GOP nominee had an unusual characterization of that bloody battle.

“Gettysburg, what an unbelievable battle that was,” Trump said in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania.

“It was so much, and so interesting, and so vicious and horrible, and so beautiful in so many different ways—it represented such a big portion of the success of this country,” he continued.

Trump has frequently suggested a desire to scrap the presidential two-term limit, enacted after President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought and won four.

“You know, FDR 16 years — almost 16 years — he was four terms,” he abruptly interjected at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas. “I don’t know, are we going to be considered three-term? Or two-term?” Trump quipped, presumably referring to his contention that, since he really won in 2020, this would be his third term.

It was hardly a new thought. In a 2019 speech to Republican donors at Mar-a-Lago, CNN reported, Trump noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping had made himself president for life.

“I think it’s great,” Trump said. “Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

Carl P. Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News.

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