President Donald Trump suggested drug dealers in the United States should face harsher punishments, such as the death penalty or life in prison, during a campaign rally for congressional candidate Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania on Saturday.
“I think it’s a discussion we have to start thinking about,” Trump said during the rally in Moon Township. “I don’t know if we’re ready. I don’t know if this country’s ready for it.”
Trump praised Singapore and China for their “zero tolerance policy” when it comes to drugs, and floated the idea for the U.S.
“That means if we catch a drug dealer, death penalty,” Trump said of Singapore, recalling a conversation he had with the country’s president. “And they don’t have a problem.”
The president may have also pulled inspiration from the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, whose bloody war against drugs has led to the deaths of thousands of people ― including small-time drug users and innocent people whom he has called “collateral damage.”
Last year, Trump congratulated Duterte for his efforts in eradicating drugs from the country, according to a leaked transcript of their phone call.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump reportedly said. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
Speaking at Saccone’s campaign rally Saturday, Trump said drug dealers need to be handled in the same way the U.S. handles those convicted of murder, adding that people who “kill some person, knife one person” may get the death penalty or life in prison.
“You kill 5,000 people with drugs because you’re smuggling them in and you’re making a lot of money and people are dying and they don’t even put you in jail,” Trump said.
“That’s why we have a problem, folks,” he added. “I don’t think we should play games.”
Trump’s remarks this weekend mirror a speech he made at the White House Opioids Summit last week, when he suggested again that drug dealers should have to face the death penalty.
“Some countries have a very, very tough penalty — the ultimate penalty,” Trump said during last week’s summit. “And, by the way, they have much less of a drug problem than we do.”
Trump’s self-congratulating speech on Saturday covered a wide variety of topics. During the rally, Trump claimed his controversial tariffs would revive the steel industry, took credit for the reduced tensions with North Korea and discussed competing against Oprah Winfrey if she decides to run in the 2020 presidential elections.
Trump also announced his new re-election campaign slogan: “Keep America Great, exclamation point.”
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