Donald Trump’screated a media frenzy, just as he hoped.
But Trump won’t take any reporters with him and there’s little time for productive talks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto -- which might be just as well. Pena Nieto has criticized Trump’s rhetoric and policy talk of a big, beautiful border wall, mass deportations, and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Ahead of his trip and a highly anticipated policy speech Wednesday, Trump hit the safe immigration talking points in Tuesday’s Everett, Washington rally.
“We are also going to secure our border and stop the drugs from pouring in,” Trump told the crowd gathered Tuesday evening. “Big speech on immigration, we’ll be talking about that. Arizona. Tomorrow night.”
But he dodged the issue dogging him for weeks: what he would do with the deportations of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Trump also failed to mention his last-minute trip to Mexico Wednesday, where he will take up Pena Nieto’s invitation.
The Mexican president has previously compared Trump’s nationalist rhetoric.
And at the White House in July, Pena Nieto praised NAFTA.
The GOP nominee, meanwhile, vilified the trade agreement at his Tuesday rally.
“We are going to renegotiate the horrible NAFTA trade deal,” Trump said.
The Mexican president is also familiar withhe intends to erect along the United States’ southern border. But Pena Nieto has dismissed that proposal without hesitation.
“There is no way that Mexico can pay for a wall like that,” Pena Nieto told CNN in a July interview.
On Twitter, the Mexican leader explained the Trump meeting this way: “I believe in dialogue to promote Mexico’s interests...and...protect Mexicans.”
But for over a year, Trump rode criticism of Mexico to the Republican nomination, charging Mexican immigrants with “bringing drugs” and crime and saying that “the Mexican government forces many bad people into our country.”
Former Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala called that kind of language “hate speech.”
Writing to Trump on Twitter, she said, “Although they have invited you, know that you are not welcome.”
Though Pena Nieto also invited Hillary Clinton to visit Mexico, the Democratic nominee must weigh the risks of being seen as a Trump copy-cat.
Clinton’s campaign issued this statement on Trump’s visit: “What ultimately matters is what Donald Trump says to voters in Arizona, not Mexico, and whether he remains committed to the splitting up of families and deportation of millions.”