Robert De Niro, the two-time Oscar-winning actor who famously yelled “F— Trump!” onstage at the Tony Awards last year, said Democrats need to stop being so “gentlemanly” if they’re going to stand a chance running against the president in 2020.

“The things that Trump has done; if Obama had done one-fiftieth, they’d be all over him,” Mr. De Niro told The Guardian in an interview Sunday. “That’s why I feel that Democrats have to be more aggressive. You’ve got to stand up, you can’t be so gentlemanly all the time because you’ve just got to say: ‘Sorry, I’m nice to a point, then I’ve got to push back.’

“You have to fight fire with fire,” he continued. “You’ve got to say: ‘I’m sorry — let’s call a spade a spade. You are who you are and we’ve got to confront you at your own game and that’s what’s needed.’ You can do it in a nice way but you have to be hard and tough about it.”

Mr. De Niro, who has made multiple headlines over the past few years for his pugnacious and often vulgar attacks on Mr. Trump, said Sunday that the president is a white supremacist who has put the U.S. on a path toward fascism.

“When you see someone like [Mr. Trump] becoming president, I thought, well, OK, let’s see what he does — maybe he’ll change,” the actor said. “But he just got worse. It showed me that he is a real racist. I thought maybe as a New Yorker he understands the diversity in the city but he’s as bad as I thought he was before — and much worse. It’s a shame.

“If he had his way, we’d wind up in a very bad state in this country,” he said. “I mean, the way I understand it, they laughed at Hitler. They all look funny. Hitler looked funny, Mussolini looked funny and other dictators and despots look funny.”

Mr. De Niro said he’s excited about several potential Democratic challengers to Mr. Trump in the next presidential election, including failed Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke and failed Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.

“You need somebody who’s strong enough to outmouth [Mr. Trump] — because that’s all he is, mouth — and smart enough and well-informed enough in a debate, say, to override all that nonsense that he does, because basically it’s just name-calling,” Mr. De Niro argued. “He has no substance. I don’t know how people fall for it. He’s just a big blowhard. But it ain’t over ’til it’s over as far as I’m concerned with a guy like him because he’s a dirty player.”

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