Despite earlier inflammatory comments about Mexican "rapists" illegally crossing the U.S. border, business mogul and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Wednesday that he will win the Latino vote if he earns the GOP nomination in 2016.
"If I get the nomination, I'll win the Latino vote. I will win it. Because I'm going to create jobs," Trump said in an interview with NBC News. "I will create jobs and the Latinos will have jobs that they don't have right now. And I will win that vote."
During his unscripted presidential campaign announcement last month, Trump said he would cut down on the wave of illegal immigration from the southern border and criticized Mexican immigrants for "bringing crime" and being "rapists."
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," the Republican presidential candidate said in June. "They're sending people that have lots of problems ... they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
The comments were met with an uproar from many in the Latino community, with several corporations and politicians also denouncing the remarks.
But in his latest news interview, Trump emphasized that he had a "great relationship with the Mexican people." He referred specifically to his latest project in the United States capital, a Trump International Hotel being built on Pennsylvania Avenue just five blocks away from the White House.
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"I have many people working for me -- you can look at the job in Washington -- I have many legal immigrants working with me," he continued. "Many of them come from Mexico. They love me. I love them."
According to a Washington Post report earlier this week, some of those construction laborers working on the Trump hotel may have come into the country illegally. In interviews with the newspaper, several workers also expressed outrage at the billionaire developer's earlier comments.
In addition to the backlash from the Latino community, a spate of businesses have also severed their business relationships with Trump over his remarks. Macy's department stores, NBC Universal, Univision, and even mattress company Serta have all cut ties with various Trump ventures over the last two weeks.
Trump's comments -- and his subsequent defense -- also caused a widening rift in the Republican party, with some presidential candidates lashing out at the business mogul for his "wrong" views.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the latest to comment on the controversy, with a video released Wednesday that knocked Trump for his "offensive" remarks.
"I know securing the border is going to take a lot more than just building a wall," Perry said, criticizing Trump's popular refrain that he would build a larger wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. "I also know that your comments about Mexicans are offensive, and they don't reflect the values of the Republican Party. Mexican Americans have been part of the fabric of Texas from the very beginning, and have fought on behalf of our state and our country from the Alamo to Afghanistan."
"Your remarks might make for good reality TV, but they're way out of touch with reality," Perry added.
In a talk with the Atlantic Council on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham also said that unless the GOP says they disagree with Trump on immigration, "as a party, we are going to lose in 2016."
In Wednesday's interview, Trump also criticized Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton for her tenure as the nation's top diplomat.
Calling Clinton the "worst secretary of state" in the history of the United States, he added that "the world blew up around us. We lost everything including all relationships. There wasn't one good thing that came out of that administration or her being secretary of state."