Presidential races

Trump to Mexico Wednesday for private meeting with president

Donald Trump says he will meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday, hours ahead of a high-profile immigration speech the GOP presidential nominee is scheduled to give in Arizona.

The official Twitter account of the president of Mexico appeared to confirm the report, tweeting shortly after Trump that the meeting would be “in private.” And Peña Nieto tweeted from his own account that he had invited both presidential candidates to discuss the bilateral relationship. 



The Washington Post first reported Tuesday night that Trump was considering the last-minute trip to Mexico City. Trump tweeted confirmation shortly before he took the stage for a rally in Washington state Tuesday night, but he did not mention the visit in his remarks. 

Peña Nieto invited the mogul to visit him and discuss campaign issues, unidentified sources told the Post. The effort was reportedly facilitated by his campaign’s CEO, Steve Bannon. 
Trump has been publicly wrestling over whether to soften his immigration position and essentially reverse the hardline stance that he carried him through the primary.
Trump is scheduled to give a major immigration speech Wednesday night in Phoenix, during which he is expected to clarify his position. The trip to Mexico will be sandwiched between that speech and a fundraiser he’s slated to attend in California that morning.

While there was no immediate word on whether Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will make a similar trip, her campaign released a statement late Tuesday night from communications director Jennifer Palmieri. 

“From the first days of his campaign, Donald Trump has painted Mexicans as ‘rapists’ and criminals and has promised to deport 16 million people, including children and U.S. citizens,” she said. 

“He has said we should force Mexico to pay for his giant border wall. He has said we should ban remittances to families in Mexico if Mexico doesn’t pay up. What ultimately matters is what Donald Trump says to voters in Arizona, not Mexico, and whether he remains committed to the splitting up of families and deportation of millions.”  

For Peña Nieto, the meeting comes at a difficult political time. 

poll published on Aug. 11 by Reforma newspaper gave Peña a 23 percent approval rating, the lowest of his presidency. A similar poll published on Aug. 16 showed Trump is even less popular with Mexicans — only 4 percent have a favorable image of the Republican nominee.
In June, Peña Nieto compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of Mussolini and Hitler. 
An unresolved conflict with an offshoot of the official teachers’ union has paralyzed parts of the country. Striking teachers have refused to start the school year, blocking access points to cities in the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas and organizing massive protests in Mexico City.
Rumors about potential Cabinet changes and early talk about 2018’s presidential election have ignited concern that Peña is already a lame duck with two years left in office.
Peña Nieto, slated to give his state of the union address on Thursday, changed the format from a bicameral session of congress to a town hall meeting with young Mexicans. He is expected to tout five areas: educational reform, a major detonator of the teachers’ strikes; prosperity; inclusiveness; peace; and global responsibility.

Trump has been telegraphing a potential shift on the issue of immigration for more than a week, and his public comments have muddied the waters.

In two recent interviews, Trump used both the words “softening” and “hardening” to describe his immigration evolution.

Most observers don’t expect he will announce any major policy changes Wednesday in Phoenix. Instead, they think he’ll use rhetoric to try to appeal to both his base and the new audiences he needs to bring under his tent.

A perceived shift on the issue could undercut Trump’s declaration that he’s different from typical politicians, especially since he launched his campaign with harsh rhetoric against Mexicans and a promise to build a wall and make America’s southern neighbor pay for it.

Trump had planned to address the issue of immigration last week in Colorado but postponed that event. The Arizona event scheduled for Wednesday was originally billed as an immigration speech, but the Trump camp then said it would focus on party unity instead. It was canceled on Friday, before Trump clarified that it would simply move to a larger venue.

Updated 12:14 a.m. 

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

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