Trump praises ‘late, great’ fictional mass murderer Hannibal Lecter as ‘a wonderful man’ at New Jersey rally

Former president ‘congratulates’ cannibal killer in baffling remarks to Jersey Shore faithful

Joe Sommerlad
Monday 13 May 2024 13:29 BST
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Trump praises ‘late, great’ Hannibal Lecter at wild Jersey Shore rally

Donald Trump delivered one of the strangest remarks of the 2024 campaign season so far when he praised the fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter to a crowd of his supporters in New Jersey on Saturday night, hailing the cannibal murderer as “a wonderful man”.

Silence of the Lambs! Has anyone ever seen Silence of the Lambs?” the Republican presidential candidate asked his supporters during a beachfront address in Wildwood on the Jersey Shore.

He continued: “The late, great Hannibal Lecter. He’s a wonderful man. He oftentimes would have a friend for dinner. Remember the last scene? ‘Excuse me, I’m about to have a friend for dinner,’ as this poor doctor walks by.

“‘I’m about to have a friend for dinner.’ But Hannibal Lecter. Congratulations, the late, great Hannibal Lecter…”

From there, he suddenly segued into a more familiar tirade about illegal immigration at America’s southern border with Mexico, declaring: “We have people that are being released into our country that we don’t want in our country…”

Thomas Harris’s fictional monster first appeared in his 1981 novel Red Dragon and has been played on screen since by Brian Cox, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Gaspard Ulliel and on television by Mads Mikkelsen, with Sir Anthony winning an Oscar for his chilling performance in the 1991 Jonathan Demme film alluded to by Mr Trump.

While that was undoubtedly the candidate’s most baffling off-the-cuff riff to the 80,000-strong crowd gathered to hear him – according to his campaign’s headcount, at least – Mr Trump also raised eyebrows among the locals by claiming to have drawn a bigger audience than rocker Bruce Springsteen and was on savage form rebuking President Joe Biden as a “total moron”.

“You could take the 10 worst presidents in the history of our country, and add them up... and they haven’t done the damage to our country that this total moron has done,” the Republican fumed, without citing any examples.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey, on Saturday 11 May 2024 (AP)

He also lashed out over his ongoing New York hush-money trial, which he referred to as a “Biden show trial” and “bulls***”, again labelling the presiding judge, Juan Merchan, as “highly conflicted” and coining a cruel new nickname for Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, referring to the man who has charged him with 34 felony counts related to the alleged falsification of business records to conceal a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels as “Fat Alvin, corrupt guy”.

Mr Trump did manage to hold his tongue on the subject of Ms Daniels, who testified against him last week, or Michael Cohen, his former lawyer who is due to take the stand beginning Monday.

An attack on either of them could have been construed as a further violation of the gag order imposed on him by Judge Merchan, who has already fined the defendant $10,000 and threatened him with jail time if he persists in denouncing the trial.

Elsewhere, Mr Trump compared himself to the Chicago gangster Al Capone, promised his supporters he would “not give one penny to any school that has a vaccine mandate” and confused former president Jimmy Carter with the retired tennis great Jimmy Connors.

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