Trump says he won’t be a dictator if elected, ‘except for Day One’

Former President Donald Trump said at a Fox News town hall Tuesday that he would not be a dictator “except for Day One” if he is elected president next year.

Trump’s comments at the taped event in Iowa came in response to host Sean Hannity’s asking him whether he would abuse the power of the office to seek revenge.

“You are promising America tonight you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?” Hannity said.

“Except for Day One,” Trump responded, repeating the phrase.

Asked for clarification, Trump said, “I want to close the border, and I want to drill, drill, drill.”

Moments later, Trump doubled down on his comments.

“I love this guy,” Trump said, referring to Hannity. “He says, ‘You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’ I said: ‘No, no, no. Other than Day One.’ We’re closing the border, and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.”

The Biden campaign quickly seized on the remarks, posting a clip of the exchange to X. After the town hall concluded, Biden campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodriguez blasted Trump in a statement.

“Donald Trump has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s reelected and tonight he said he will be a dictator on day one,” she said. “Americans should believe him.”

Trump’s comments came after he did not directly answer an earlier question from Hannity about whether he had plans to “abuse power, to break the law, to use the government to go after people.”

“You mean like they’re using right now?” Trump replied, apparently referring to Democrats.

The town hall — at times raucous amid what appeared to be a firmly pro-Trump audience — took place in Davenport a day before the fourth Republican debate, which Trump said he will not participate in. He has skipped the previous three.

Trump maintains a wide lead in the polls over his Republican opponents. An NBC News poll last month found that 58% of Republican voters considered Trump to be their first choice in the GOP primaries. In contrast, only 18% of voters considered Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to be their top choice.

During the town hall, Trump said his campaign would “be blitzing” Iowa in the weeks before the first-in-the-nation caucuses on Jan. 15.

“We’re not taking any chances,” he said.