Why did the United States percieve Hitler as a threat before the US got involved in WWII?  

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Before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, much of America did not perceive Hitler as a real threat.  That is why the America First movement was so strong in the time before Pearl Harbor.

However, some Americans, notably President Franklin Roosevelt, did see Hitler as a real threat.  Roosevelt felt that Hitler was a threat because he was so opposed to democratic forms of government.  He felt that Hitler was bent on dominating the world and that Hitler would not be happy to have a strong and democratic US in existence since the ideals of democracy and those of fascism were so clearly opposed to one another.

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