By Noah Bierman, Tracy Wilkinson and Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times
Donald Trump showcased his flair for the dramatic spectacle again Wednesday, flying his unpredictable campaign across the southern border for a hastily arranged summit with the president of a country he has repeatedly maligned.
The move was stunning for a nominee whose presidential run began with harsh denunciations of Mexicans, whom he called “rapists” when he announced his candidacy, and whose slogan-ready pledge to build a border wall includes the improbable idea that Mexico will pay for it.
Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto had a cordial but frank discussion for about an hour at the presidential residence. The men said they did not discuss whether Mexico would pay for a wall along the countries’ shared border, a core campaign promise of the Republican presidential nominee. But Peña Nieto pointedly vowed to protect Mexican nationals living in the U.S. who contribute to prosperity and “deserve the respect of everyone.”
For his part, Trump said he was “straightforward in presenting my views about the impacts of current trade and immigration policies of the United States.”
The visit to Mexico, just hours before Trump planned to deliver a long-awaited speech on immigration enforcement, represented yet another gamble for the GOP presidential candidate.
A high-level meeting in a presidential palace with a foreign leader allowed the outsider candidate to demonstrate statesmanship and to assure voters that his tough talk will not prevent him from striking dialogue with foreign leaders.