Democratic congressman Harley Rouda (Calif.) addressed President Donald Trump's criticism of mainstream news media by comparing the president to Adolf Hitler.
During a Tuesday virtual call with supporters, Rouda was asked how to "move forward" from Trump "demonizing the press." The Democrat responded by saying he is "scared every single day we are taking one more step toward fascism" and compared the political rise of Trump to that of Hitler.
"[Hitler] came to power under fair, free elections. He started denigrating the press, he started denigrating minorities, talk[ing] about the need—so that the people could hear the true story—that the government needed to control the press," Rouda said. "When you start looking at the commonalities between what we are witnessing by this president and what has transpired in dictatorships around the world, again, we should all be fearful as to the direction we're going."
Rouda went on to accuse the president's supporters of acting in "complete blindness to what is going on," saying they "follow and do what this president asks of them." The critique applies to a number of the freshman lawmaker's constituents—nearly 147,000 people in his district voted for Trump in 2016, good for 46 percent of the votes.
In 2018, Rouda became the first Democrat to win California's 48th Congressional District since its 1993 creation. The Democrat, who did not respond to a request for comment, is facing a difficult reelection bid against Orange County supervisor Michelle Steel. The Republican outraised Rouda in the second quarter, hauling in $1.1 million—nearly double Rouda's roughly $662,000.
Rouda has previously touted his support for the Never Again Education Act, which requires the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to disseminate educational resources "to improve awareness and understanding of the Holocaust." In a May 2019 tweet, Rouda noted that "Americans' firsthand memory of Holocaust atrocities is quickly fading," calling for students to learn about the Holocaust "through survivor stories."
Rouda is not the only Democrat to compare Trump to Hitler. New York congressional hopeful Perry Gershon said he was motivated to run for Congress in 2018 because he was "struck by the parallels between the rise of Donald Trump today and the rise of Hitler back then." Lawyer and New York Times contributor Allan Richarz called the "overwrought" comparisons "historically illiterate and an extreme strategic misstep" in a 2018 op-ed for the Hill.