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Trump defends loyalty pledges at rallies, ‘surprised’ by Hitler comparisons

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Donald Trump says it never occurred to him that his so-called “loyalty pledge” — in which the Republican frontrunner asks attendees at his rallies to raise their right hands and repeat an oath to vote for him — would draw comparisons to Nazi Germany.

“Honestly, until this phone call, I didn’t know it was a problem,” Trump said on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday when asked about the similarities between his pledge and World War II-era imagery. “I’m very surprised to hear it.”

Over the weekend, comedian Louis C.K. and conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck both compared Trump to Hitler.

“The number of prominent people comparing you to Adolf Hitler is actually growing by the day,” host George Stephanopoulos told Trump on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday.

“I don’t know about the Hitler comparison,” Trump replied. “I hadn’t heard that.”

Trump first began asking supporters to take the loyalty pledge on Saturday in Orlando.

“Raise your right hand: ‘I do solemnly swear that I — no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there’s hurricanes or whatever — will vote, on or before the 12th, for Donald J. Trump for president,” he said.

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Trump asks the crowd at a campaign rally in Orlando on Saturday to take a pledge to vote for him. (Photo: Brynn Anderson/AP)

On Monday, Trump asked attendees at a Mississippi rally to make a similar pledge.

“I mean, they’re having such a great time,” Trump said on “Today.” “They’re massive crowds. I get, you know, by far, the biggest crowds, and we’re having a good time.”

Trump was asked about the Hitler comparison on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” too.

“That’s ridiculous,” Trump said. “This is the first I’ve heard of it this morning. I was on the ‘Today’ show, and they mentioned it, and I said, ‘What is going on here?’ I think it’s ridiculous.”

“They’re raising their hand in the form of a vote, not in the form of a salute,” he continued. “That is crazy. I can’t believe that’s even being posed.”

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Trump speaks at the rally in Orlando. (Photo: Brynn Anderson/AP)

According to Politico, the pledge is one of several new tactics employed by the Trump campaign to help identify possible protesters at his raucous rallies. (Also employed: plainclothes security guards and media restrictions.)

“Sometimes we’ll do it for fun, and they’ll start screaming at me, ‘Do the swear-in! Do the swear-in!’” Trump said on “Today.” “If it’s offensive, if there’s anything wrong with it, I wouldn’t do it.”

Given the similarities to Hitler’s “Heil” salute, Trump was asked if he would stop doing the pledge.

“Well, I’ll certainly look into it,” Trump replied. “I mean, I’d like to find out that that’s true, but I’ll certainly look into it, because I don’t want to offend anybody. But I can tell you that it’s been amazingly received.”

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