Expectations had been raised by some close to Donald Trump that the Republican presidential candidate would be softening his strident rhetoric ahead of Wednesday night’s policy speech about immigration.
And when it was announced he was accepting an invitation to meet with Mexico’s president Wednesday afternoon, expectations were further raised: Could Trump reverse the criticism that he cannot act presidential?
By all accounts, Trump comported himself in a manner one would expect from a world leader, standing side by side with President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City, delivering readouts of their meeting.
Responding to a question from a reporter, Trump said they did not discuss who would pay for the wall Trump, if elected president, vows to build between the two countries — and make Mexico pay for it.
After Trump left Mexico, Peña Nieto tweeted that he began the meeting by telling Trump Mexico would not pay for the wall.
And once he got to Phoenix, Arizona to deliver his immigration policy speech, it was vintage Trump, outlining a 10-point plan to aggressively attack illegal immigration, including making Mexico pay for a wall.
It was a day that left many Republicans wondering which Trump to expect.
Mexico Gamble a Huge Win for Trump
Byron York – Washington Examiner
Before the meeting, some in the Trump circle saw a win virtually no matter what happened. “It’s a great gesture,” another adviser said. “Frankly, the outcome doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that he did it. He took the guy up on his invitation, and even if there’s no substance, at least the gesture was made, and it absolutely, totally overshadows anything Hillary Clinton is going to do for the next 48 hours.”…
Before the meeting, it’s fair to say that Pena Nieto and Trump didn’t agree on much of anything — from the border wall to NAFTA to Trump’s statements about Mexicans to Pena Nieto’s statements about Trump. But after the meeting, the president and the candidate stood before the press like two world leaders calmly and rationally discussing the issues of the day.
Donald Trump’s Immigration Speech: The Same Old Tripe
Jennifer Rubin – The Washington Post
In Arizona on Wednesday night, Donald Trump proclaimed to his hardcore base what he did not have the nerve to say to Mexico’s president. He reverted to red meat and angry rhetoric on immigration. In that regard, he is a typical bully — brave only from a distance.
Trump began with praise for the Mexican president, who had effectively called him out as a liar…. Trump insisted we would build a “great” wall along the southern border and get Mexico to pay for it. Of course, he’d first have to ask for it, something he claimed he did not do today.
[M]ass deportation is still on the table…he reiterated his entirely unworkable “extreme vetting” plan to keep out Muslim extremists…
In short, there was no pivot, no attempt to broaden his base. He remains a prisoner of his own hateful rhetoric and his adoring fans. That it seems is more important even than winning.
Trump’s Immigration Speech Made Good Sense Sound Like Extremism
David French – National Review
At its core, Trump’s ten-point plan turns on a few simple and sound concepts: It is the responsibility of the American president to secure the liberty and prosperity of the American people; for the sake of national security, economic stability, and cultural cohesion, a nation must be able to control its borders and regulate who enters the country; and those who enter the country must be people who will contribute to the health and vitality of the national community.
Unfortunately, Trump’s immigration views, even if sensibly expressed, are outside the mainstream of American public opinion. That wasn’t a problem in the Republican primary, where he appealed to a plurality that was apparently longing for a celebrity voice to confront the establishment on immigration (and virtually everything else). But it’s a problem now.