Donald Trump is defending a gesture he makes at his rallies at the request of supporters in which he raises his right hand that has been compared by some to the Nazi salute.
Speaking to US broadcaster NBC’s Today programme, Mr Trump called the accusations “ridiculous” and said his supporters call on him to make a gesture as if he is swearing in for the presidency.
“Until this call, I didn’t know it was a problem,” Mr Trump said. “Sometimes we’ll do it for fun.”
He continued: “Sometimes they’ll scream at me, ‘Do the swear-in, do the swear-in’.”
At the rally in Florida last week, Mr Trump raised his hand, with his elbow bent, and led the crowd in the oath.
“Can I have a pledge – a swearing? Raise your right hand,” Mr Trump said. “I do solemnly swear that I, no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions of the hurricanes or whatever … will vote on or before the 12th for Donald J Trump for president.”
Florida’s Republican primary is March 15.
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) March 8, 2016
Mr Trump has faced past accusations that his rhetoric veers toward far-right nationalism or fascism.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto was the latest to compare the billionaire businessman to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini based on some of the rhetoric he uses on the campaign trail.
Asked about Mr Trump, Mr Pena Nieto complained to the Excelsior newspaper about “these strident expressions that seek to propose very simple solutions” and said that sort of language has led to “very fateful scenes in the history of humanity”.
“That’s the way Mussolini arrived and the way Hitler arrived,” Mr Pena Nieto said.
Mr Trump said he had not heard the comparisons to Hitler by Mr Pena Nieto and others but said “it’s a terrible comparison, I’m not happy about that certainly. I don’t want that comparison. But we have to be strong and we have to be vigilant”.
Mr Trump’s comments came ahead of primaries in Michigan, Mississippi and Idaho, and the Hawaii caucuses.