Donald Trump paid a visit to the Mexico border Thursday and predicted Hispanics would love him — “they already do” — because as president he’d get jobs back from overseas and provide more opportunity to those who live in the U.S. legally.
“There’s great danger with the illegals,” the Republican presidential contender told reporters. But he claimed a “great relationship” with Hispanics, even as Latino leaders have come at him with blistering criticism for his painting Mexican immigrants as criminals.
“I’ll take jobs back from China, I’ll take jobs back from Japan,” Trump said. “The Hispanics are going to get those jobs, and they’re going to love Trump.”
The brief border visit came as Trump continued to dominate attention in the GOP presidential race, to the growing exasperation of his rivals. Campaigning in Gorham, New Hampshire, Jeb Bush offered a distinctly different message in the immigration debate — and spoke partly in Spanish.
Trump traveled in a massive police-escorted motorcade on roads closed for his entourage.
A local border patrol union pulled out of events involving him. Trump stepped off his plane in Laredo and said the union members had backed out because they were “petrified and they’re afraid of saying what’s happening” at the border. Dozens of people were on hand, a mix of protesters and supporters.
Trump roiled the presidential race weeks ago when he branded Mexican immigrants criminals, sparking a feud with his GOP rivals that intensified after his dismissive comments about Arizona Sen. John McCain’s military service in the Vietnam War.
Meanwhile, Trump said he would run as a political independent if he does not get “fair” treatment from the Republican Party, he said in an interview published on Thursday.
Trump said any third-party bid would depend on the Republican National Committee’s actions during the party’s primary selection process, according to the Hill.
“I’ll have to see how I’m being treated by the Republicans,” Trump was quoted as saying. “Absolutely, if they’re not fair, that would be a factor.”
With Trump hovering near the top of the field of 16 candidates seeking the party’s presidential nomination, an independent run would split Republican voters and could give leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton an edge in the November 2016 election.