Donald Trump legally crossed the border into Mexico today for a meeting with the country’s president but declined to break it to him that he would be paying for Trump’s Great Wall.
The man who launched his presidential bid a year ago vowing to create a deportation force that would stop Mexico from sending its “rapists,” criminals and drug dealers into the United States today described Mexicans as being “beyond reproach,” respectful, hard-working people with strong values of family, faith and community.
Returning the compliment during their post-talk newser, Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto did not compare Trump’s foreign policy to that of Hitler and Mussolini, as he has in the past.
On the other hand, before inviting Trump and Hillary Clinton to meet with him, Peña Nieto had vowed not to get involved in the U.S. presidential election, and today he got involved in a bigg-ish way, giving Trump a made-for-TV tableau in which he got to appear very presidential, as his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had forecast would happen during an appearance on CNN this morning.
Trump did, in his prepared remarks before taking questions, note that he’d shared with the president his belief the North American Free Trade Agreement has been “of far greater benefit to Mexico than the United States and must be improved upon.” And Peña Nieto did admit to recognizing the right every country has to protect its own borders, though he suggested the bets way to accomplish that is by treating the country on the other side as an ally in that effort.
Still, when it was over, U.S. TV news networks, who’d spent the day breathlessly covering the hastily arranged visit, were left mulling whether this new in-like-a-lion-out-like-a-lamb Trump would sway a single Hispanic vote that he hadn’t already won before today’s meeting.
As the GOP nominee was jetting to Peña Nieto’s digs, Reporters Who Cover Trump had wiled away the time wondering how both men would use the photo op to their advantage. Their Reporters Who Cover Trump were unhappily cooling their heels in Phoenix, Trump having left them there — which, CNN’s media pundit Brian Stelter said, set a dangerous precedent for candidates and POTUSes going forward, as if somehow Trump’s movements there now would not be properly covered. That might have irked his network’s reporters in Mexico City.