- President Donald Trump on Monday night attempted to woo Hispanic voters at a rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
- “They don’t want criminals coming across the border,” Trump remarked of Hispanic Americans. “They don’t want people taking their jobs. They want to have that security. And they want the wall. They want the wall.”
- Addressing the CNN commentator Steve Cortes in the crowd, Trump said, “He happens to be Hispanic, but I’ve never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do.”
- Trump has previously faced criticism for smears against Latin American migrants to the US.
US President Donald Trump made an ambitious pitch to Hispanic voters on Monday night in New Mexico, a state he lost to Democrats by 8 points in the 2016 presidential election.
“We’re here, because we really think we’re going to turn this state and make it a Republican state,” Trump told supporters at the rally in Rio Rancho.
He went on to boast of low levels of Hispanic unemployment under his administration, praised Hispanic Heritage Month, and claimed that Hispanic Americans supported his pledge to build a wall on the southern US border as a way of stemming illegal immigration.
“They don’t want criminals coming across the border,” he said. “They don’t want people taking their jobs. They want to have that security. And they want the wall. They want the wall.”
Throughout the speech Trump launched into an ad-libbed dialogue with Steve Cortes, a CNN commentator and longtime supporter who is a member of Trump’s Hispanic advisory committee and was in the crowd.
“He happens to be Hispanic, but I’ve never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do,” Trump said.
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Shouting to Cortes across the arena, Trump said: “Nobody loves the Hispanics more. Who do you like more, the country or the Hispanics?”
Cortes’ response appeared inaudible, and Trump went on to answer for him.
“He says the country,” Trump said. “I don’t know, I may have to go for the Hispanics, to be honest with you. We got a lot of Hispanics. We love our Hispanics. Get out and vote.”
Trump later claimed that Hispanic Americans supported his proposed border wall because they understood what he described as a US “drug crisis” better than other Americans. The president has in the past attacked Latin American migrants by linking them to the drug trade.
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Such attacks have been present since Trump launched his presidential campaign back in 2015, branding migrants from Mexico attempting to enter the US as “rapists” who were “bringing crime” before he added, “And some, I assume, are good people.”
His support among Hispanic Americans has remained low, with a recent Pew survey finding that only about 20% of Hispanics approving of the job Trump was doing.
He is campaigning in New Mexico as part of a plan to offset potential losses in swing states that narrowly handed him victory in 2016 should they swing back to the Democratic Party in 2020.
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