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Trump seeks to fundraise off 'bloodbath' controversy: What he actually said

After former President Donald Trump warned, as he talked about the auto industry, that the country would face a broader "bloodbath" if he's not elected in November -- spurring countless headlines and criticism from rival Joe Biden -- Trump on Monday pushed back on the pushback and turned his defense of his comments into a fundraising appeal.

Posting on his social media platform, Trump claimed that his "bloodbath" warning was "simply" about the potential challenges for auto workers if he's not back in the White House to impose tariffs on China.

Trump's campaign is also capitalizing on the controversy, with a fundraising email sent on Monday insisting that his political opponents and others had "viciously" misquoted him as part of a broader effort to "keep control."

"[T]hey fully understood that I was simply referring to imports allowed by Crooked Joe Biden, which are killing the automobile industry," Trump wrote on social media, in part.

Biden often touts his economic record, including the consistently low unemployment rate, despite issues like high inflation.

Creating some friction with union members, however, the administration also wants car companies to shift to make many more electric vehicles as part of a broader push to address climate change -- a position that Trump argues will harm workers in America.

Here is what Trump said about a "bloodbath" on Saturday:

While appearing outside Dayton, Ohio, at an event in support of Republican Senate candidate Bernie Moreno, Trump initially said that China is trying to undercut the American auto industry by manufacturing cars in Mexico.

"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 [Jinping], 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 gonna get that, you're gonna not hire Americans and you're gonna sell the cars to us -- no.

"We're gonna put a 100% tariff on every single car that comes across the line, and you're not gonna be able to sell those guys, if I get elected!" Trump said.

He then suggested there would be bigger issues if he isn't returned to the White House by voters.

"Now, if I don't get elected, it's gonna be a bloodbath for the whole -- that's gonna to be the least of it -- it's gonna be a bloodbath for the country. That'll be the least of it," he said.

"But they're not gonna sell those cars, they're building massive factories," Trump continued, returning to talking about auto manufacturing.

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PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Dayton International Airport on March 16, 2024 in Vandalia, Ohio.  (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Dayton International Airport on March 16, 2024 in Vandalia, Ohio. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Over the course of his roughly 90-minute remarks on Saturday, Trump segued back and forth, sometimes abruptly, between many different subjects and indicated that he wasn't using a teleprompter because of the wind.

President Biden's campaign soon seized on the "bloodbath" comments, highlighting how Trump has often praised authoritarian leaders and starts many of his rallies by saluting the American flag while "Justice for All" by the "J6 Prison Choir" plays.

"This is who Donald Trump is," Biden spokesperson James Singer said in a statement on Saturday night.

"He wants another January 6, but the American people are going to give him another electoral defeat this November because they continue to reject his extremism, his affection for violence, and his thirst for revenge," Singer said.

Biden echoed that in a post on Sunday from his personal account on X, contending that regardless of Trump's defense, "It’s clear this guy wants another January 6."

Trump aides took on the criticism directly, too.

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Campaign spokesman Steven Cheung posted on X: "Media wants to talk about 'bloodbath.' Fine, let’s talk about it."

Cheung then went on to slam Biden for "the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal," high rates of illegal immigration and "making America less safe with a feckless foreign policy," among other issues.

At Saturday's rally, Trump repeatedly attacked Biden, whom he is set to face again in the 2024 general election, while highlighting his record while he was in office.

He also criticized Biden for the high rate of migrants now trying to cross the southern border -- some of whom, Trump said, are "animals" and "not people" -- and said Biden had failed as a leader on the world stage.

ABC News' Gabriella Abdul-Hakim, Libby Cathey and Fritz Farrow contributed to this report.

Trump seeks to fundraise off 'bloodbath' controversy: What he actually said originally appeared on abcnews.go.com