Fact Check: Trump Said It Will Be a 'Bloodbath for the Country' If He Doesn't Get Elected. Here's the Context

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At a campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio, on March 16, 2024, former U.S. President Donald Trump said: "Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole — that’s gonna be the least of it. It’s going to be a bloodbath for the country."


Rating: Correct Attribution
Rating: Correct Attribution


The context of the remark suggests Trump was predicting an "economic bloodbath" for the country, not a literal one, if he loses the 2024 presidential election.


On March 16, 2024, the hashtag "#bloodbath" trended sharply on social media in the wake of a Dayton, Ohio, campaign speech earlier that day by former U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump stirred up controversy by claiming that if he didn't get elected for another presidential term, "It's going to be a bloodbath for the country."

A video recording of the speech from C-SPAN provides proof that he said exactly those words, which many partisan observers, such as the author of the X (formerly Twitter) post below, interpreted as a threat of post-election violence:

The post above linked to an article on Occupy Democrats, a left-wing website, which pushed the "violent bloodbath" interpretation of Trump's words even as it acknowledged that, as the author put it, the context left "wiggle room" for interpretation. What was that context? Broadly speaking, it was economic. Trump was in the middle of talking about the U.S. automobile industry and the country's trade imbalance with China (emphasis added):

China now is building a couple of massive plants where they're going to build the cars in Mexico and think, they think, that they're going to sell those cars into the United States with no tax at the border.

Let me tell you something, to China, if you're listening, President Xi — and you and I are friends, but he understands the way I deal — those big, monster car-manufacturing plants that you're building in Mexico right now, and you think you're going to get that, you're going to not hire Americans, and you're going to sell the cars to us?

No, we're going to put a 100% tariff on every single car that comes across the line, and you're not going to be able to sell those cars if I get elected. Now, if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath for the whole — that's going to be the least of it, it's going to be a bloodbath for the country, that'll be the least of it. But they're not going to sell those cars, they're building massive factories.

As some social media users pointed out in lengthy threads debating what Trump really meant, popular dictionaries like Merriam-Webster include "major economic disaster" as a secondary meaning of "bloodbath."

Ultimately, however, "bloodbath for the country" is an ambiguous figure of speech, and Trump has a controversial history of using violence-tinged language in reference to political opponents, which, even if the intent was metaphorical, sarcastic or just to get media attention, makes it unsurprising that his use of the phrase "bloodbath for the country" drew instant public criticism.


Bazzle, Stephanie. "OHIO RALLY: Trump Threatens Violent 'BLOODBATH' If He's Not Re-Elected." Occupy Democrats, 17 Mar. 2024, https://occupydemocrats.com/2024/03/17/ohio-rally-trump-threatens-violent-bloodbath-if-hes-not-re-elected/.

Definition of BLOODBATH. 12 Mar. 2024, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bloodbath.

Former President Trump Campaigns for Bernie Moreno | C-SPAN.Org. https://www.c-span.org/video/?534259-1/president-trump-campaigns-bernie-moreno. Accessed 17 Mar. 2024.

Treene, Arit John, Kit Maher, Alayna. "Trump Warns of 'Bloodbath' for Auto Industry and Country If He Loses the Election | CNN Politics." CNN, 17 Mar. 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/16/politics/trump-bloodbath-auto-industry-election/index.html.