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Campaign 2016 updates: Donald Trump continues vow to build wall and have Mexico pay for it

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Differing narratives have emerged over whether Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto discussed who would pay for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Trump says in his big immigration speech that the 11 million in the U.S. illegally are not a main issue

((Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Donald Trump tried to move past a week of vacillating on immigration, his signature issue, by asserting in a speech Wednesday that the question of what to do with 11 million people in the U.S illegally is not central to the problem.

“Anyone who tells you that the core issue is the needs of those living here illegally has simply spent too much time in Washington,” Trump said to cheers from thousands of supporters here at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Rather, Trump said that President Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s policies are to blame for “countless American” deaths at the hands of immigrants in the country illegally. He said the main problem with the immigration system is that it serves the needs of wealthy donors, interest groups and politicians. He warned that Clinton was planning to broadly expand her powers if elected, in defiance of the Constitution, to grant increased “executive amnesty.”

Trump’s immigration plan mirrored his foreign policy slogan: America first.

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Donald Trump enlists loved ones killed by those in the country illegally to press message

(Matt York/AP)

The moment created deafening silence inside the convention center hall where Donald Trump was delivering a much-anticipated speech on the key pillar of his campaign: immigration.

One after another, mothers, fathers and siblings approached the lectern, Trump at their side, and said out loud the name of their loved one killed by a person in the country illegally.

Steve Ronnebeck, whose son, Grant, 21, was killed in January 2015 in Mesa, Ariz., was among those to speak.

“I truly believe Mr. Trump is going to change things,” he said from inside the Phoenix Convention Center, his voice cracking.

On Wednesday, Trump vowed, among other things, to deport all “criminal” immigrants in the U.S. illegally beginning on his first day in office.

Often on the campaign trail, Trump enlists these families, part of a group called Angel Moms, to push his message of clamping down on those in the country illegally.

(Alex Wong/Getty images )

Emotional stories of loved ones lost are also brought to the forefront by Hillary Clinton, who at times on the campaign trail is joined by women associated with Mothers of the Movement. Many of the women, all of whom are black, are mothers of people killed at the hands of police.

Clinton uses their stories to call for criminal justice reform and stricter gun laws.

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Donald Trump reaffirms he’s against granting legal status

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In which Donald Trump suggests Hillary Clinton could be ‘deported’

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Donald Trump tweets arrival ahead of big immigration speech

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Brewer says Mexican president pulled a ‘gotcha’ on Trump

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer campaigning with Donald Trump earlier this year before the state's primary.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Former Arizona Gov Jan Brewer, an immigration hard-liner and staunch supporter of Donald Trump, said Wednesday that she was unconcerned by the dispute over whether the GOP presidential nominee had talked with the Mexican president about paying for a border wall when the two met on Wednesday.

“Eventually they’re going to have to talk about it, but today was a preliminary meeting of diplomats getting together, diplomats of both countries, and I’m encouraged,” Brewer said in an interview at a Trump rally at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Trump has long made building an enormous border wall and making Mexico pay for it a centerpiece of his campaign. Earlier in the day Tuesday, he met privately with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

In a news conference afterward, he told reporters he had talked about the wall but they had not discussed who would pay for it. Pena Nieto, standing alongside Trump, did not comment at the time, but later said that he had told the GOP presidential nominee that his nation would not be paying for the wall.

Brewer dismissed the Mexican president’s assertion as “an interesting gotcha,” saying he could have made the comment while Trump had an opportunity to respond at the joint news conference.

She also pushed back at the notion that Trump has been softening his views on immigration.

“I know he believes in the rule of law. I believe we need to deport first and foremost criminal felons back to their countries of origin,” Brewer said. “Hopefully that will begin the first day he’s in office.”

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Trump supporters unfazed by immigration controversies

As they awaited a Donald Trump speech on immigration, supporters of the GOP presidential nominee said they were unfazed by the possibility that he was softening his positions or about the dispute over what was said about his proposed border wall earlier in the day.

Trump has long made building an enormous border wall and making Mexico pay for it a centerpiece of his campaign. Earlier Tuesday, Trump met privately with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

In a news conference afterward, Trump told reporters he had talked about the wall but the two had not discussed who would pay for it. The Mexican president, standing alongside Trump, did not comment at the time, but later said that he had told the GOP presidential nominee that his nation would not be paying for the wall.

Carol Morton, 64, said she was confident in Trump’s skills as a negotiator.

“I think Donald will find a way to have them pay,” said the 64-year-old airline employee, adding that Trump’s strong immigration policy was among the top reasons she supports him.

“He’s going to secure our borders,” she said. “I also think he’s a really good man, he’s smart, and I think he’s going to turn the economy around.”

In recent weeks, Trump has indicated he was softening some his positions — such as having a deportation force to remove the estimated 11 million people who are in the country illegally. The shifts have seemed aimed at making him more acceptable to moderate voters in the general election.

But Richard Kutzner of Casa Grande, Ariz., said he didn’t believe that to be true.

“We’ll have to wait and see, but I think he’s doing the right things. He says he wants to close the border and build the wall and send the illegals back, particularly the criminals,” said the 70-year-old retiree.

“When it comes to completely sending everybody back, that will be determined later. That would be a pretty impossible task, I would think.”

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Contradicting Trump, Mexican president says he made it clear Mexico will not pay for a border wall

(Dario Lopez-Mills / Associated Press)

At the end of his meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday, Donald Trump told journalists that the pair never discussed one of Trump’s most controversial campaign planks: his pledge to force Mexico to pay for construction of a massive border wall.

“We didn’t discuss payment of the wall,” Trump said, adding that such a conversation would come “at a later date.”

But after the news conference, Peña Nieto contradicted that claim, tweeting that he began the meeting with Trump by clarifying that Mexico would not pay for such a wall.

“At the beginning of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall,” Peña Nieto wrote in Spanish.

That the pair emerged from the meeting with competing narratives around the issue of the wall isn’t surprising. Peña Nieto, facing heat from many Mexicans for inviting Trump for a meeting in the first place, has said for months that there is “no way” Mexico would pay for a border wall.

And Trump’s promise that he would put economic pressure on Mexico to force them to fund the wall has become an important part of his self-presentation as someone who would be a no-nonsense negotiator on the world stage.

A Trump spokesman later characterized the meeting as the “first part of the discussion.”

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Trump and Mexico’s Peña Nieto meet but don’t discuss who would pay for a border wall

(Yuri Cortez / AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto had a cordial but frank discussion for about an hour Wednesday at the presidential residence in Mexico City, the culmination of Trump’s stunning but hastily planned trip to a country he has attacked repeatedly on the campaign trail, according to the men.

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.”

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Reactions to the Trump-Peña Nieto news conference

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Trump: ‘We didn’t discuss’ who would pay for U.S.-Mexico border wall

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Donald Trump begins meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto

Donald Trump has begun his meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at the president’s residence in Mexico City, according to Mexican government officials.

Trump arrived at Los Pinos, the official presidential residence, shortly before 2 p.m. local time. He and Peña Nieto were expected to give a joint news conference at the conclusion of their meeting.

While the coterie of news media that has been traveling with Trump was excluded from his hastily arranged trip, more than 100 journalists from the U.S. and Mexico will be in attendance.

Meanwhile, a small group of protesters gathered in Mexico City at the Angel of Independence monument to register their displeasure with Trump, who has repeatedly criticized Mexico and Mexican immigrants during his presidential campaign.

Several held signs that said simply: “Go home.”

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Before Trump’s arrival, protesters gather at Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City

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Clinton dismisses Trump’s Mexico trip as a ‘photo op’

Hillary Clinton speaks at the American Legion's national convention in Cincinnati on Wednesday.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton invited a direct comparison between her record as the nation’s chief diplomat and Donald Trump’s readiness to lead the nation, dismissing her rival’s jaunt to Mexico as a “photo op” that would do little to free him from a history of coarse rhetoric directed at the U.S. ally.

In a speech at the American Legion’s national convention in Cincinnati, the former secretary of State said America’s status as a global power could be imperiled by Trump’s intemperate behavior as she cast the fall election not as one about ideology, but about who was best suited to assume the mantle of global leadership.

Clinton declared that the idea that the United States is an exceptional nation has been a core belief that “has guided and inspired me every step of the way.” Trump, she said, agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he criticized that notion as insulting to the rest of the world.

“No matter how hard it gets, no matter how great the challenge, America must lead,” she said. “The question is how we lead. What kind of ideas, strategies, and tactics we bring to our leadership. American leadership means standing with our allies because our network of allies is part of what makes us exceptional.”

As secretary of State, Clinton said she worked every day to build coalitions that served U.S. interests and maintained global stability.

“You don’t build a coalition by insulting our friends or acting like a loose cannon,” she said. “People have to get to know that they can count on you, that you won’t say one thing one day and something totally different the next. And it certainly takes more than trying to make up for a year of insults and insinuations by dropping in on our neighbors for a few hours and then flying home again. That is not how it works.”

Clinton vowed to be a president for all Americans, and would strive to ensure the U.S. meets its commitment to veterans and military families.

“I will never, ever disrespect Gold Star families who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, or prisoners of war,” she said.

She also rejected Trump’s statement that the U.S. military is a “disaster” and largely defended President Obama’s record in leading a coalition to defeat Islamic State.

“There’s no question we face real threats and real enemies that we need to confront and defeat. But my opponent is wrong when he says America is no longer great,” she said.

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Clinton bashes Trump’s visit to Mexico as ‘trying to make up for a year of insults’

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Cowboy diplomacy vs. scholarly wonk: Trump, Clinton have different styles in foreign policy

Recent U.S. presidents have tended to fall into two categories when dealing with tough foreign policy issues and leaders abroad.

There’s the cowboy diplomacy of President George W. Bush, who memorably looked Russian President Vladimir Putin in the eye, dispatched with the “diplomatic chit chat” and got “a sense of his soul.” Bush invited Putin back to his Texas ranch, but in the end likely underestimated the Russian leader.

On the other hand, President Obama has taken a more scholarly approach, a painstaking dance of diplomacy and negotiations like the years-long effort that produced the Iran nuclear deal. But critics say he couldn’t bargain for a used car.

This year’s presidential hopefuls present similar stylish polemics.

Donald Trump’s surprising trip Wednesday to Mexico -- he dropped everything to take up Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on the offer, his team said -- is a brash, bold move.

Allies say it showcases Trump’s decisive managerial style, willing to seize a political opportunity on short notice to jump-start talks on the tough issue of immigration.

“To know Donald Trump is to know -- not your standard-issue politician -- but really a business leader that knows you first got to sit down with people, you got to look them in the eye, you got to tell them where you stand,” said vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on CNN’s “New Day.”

“That’s where real negotiations can begin,” Pence said. “I’m very confident my running mate will be very clear with President Peña Nieto about our priority of securing the border, building a wall.”

Critics, though, say the hastily-arranged trip is doomed to endure some pitfalls.

Such high-profile confabs are typically organized with long lead times to ensure safety, messaging and policy outcomes.

Even the basic logistics of maneuvering in Mexico City, where crowds of protesters and Trump pinatas may await Wednesday afternoon, could become a hot mess.

Rival Democrat Hillary Clinton’s camp called the visit a “distraction” from his highly anticipated speech later Wednesday on immigration policy.

Rather than outline a multi-point plan on how to handle the 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally, Trump can focus tonight’s Phoenix speech on his high-level chat.

An “Ave Maria pass,” is how Democratic strategist Maria Cardona put it on CNN.

Clinton meanwhile is taking an approach to foreign relations that largely follows Obama’s substance, if not his style. She was, after all, his secretary of State.

Clinton has a proposed a wonkish multi-point plan on immigration, including a comprehensive proposal that would allow many of those here illegally to apply for a path to citizenship.

Hers largely picks up where Obama’s executive actions and a failed 2013 Senate bill left off. It protects from deportation not only young immigrants here illegally, but the parents of Americans and non-citizens. Immigrants would be allowed to remain in the U.S. if they are law abiding and begin a multi-year legalization process that involves other changes to immigration law.

Clinton did not immediately take up Peña Nieto on his offer to meet.

She visited with the Mexican president in 2014, and her campaign said Wednesday she looks forward to seeing him again.

Expect hers to be a more scheduled affair.

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Trump’s Mexico visit stirs outrage: ‘We don’t want him’

(Marco Ugarte / Associated Press)

As Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump prepares to travel to Mexico City on Wednesday for a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, many Mexicans are reacting with outrage against both politicians. Their message is clear: Trump isn’t welcome here.

“We don’t like him. We don’t want him,” former Mexican President Vicente Fox told CNN. The former president called Peña Nieto a “traitor” for extending the invitation to Trump, who has repeatedly attacked Mexico over the last year and has vowed to force the nation to pay for construction of a massive border wall.

“You’re coming to take your picture with the very people you’ve offended,” Miguel Barbosa, of the leftist opposition Democratic Revolution Party, told Trump on Twitter. “Get out!”

The meeting, which was announced unexpectedly late Tuesday, has been cast by Peña Nieto as an important diplomatic opportunity. “I believe in dialogue to promote the interests of Mexico in the world, and to protect Mexicans wherever they are,” Peña Nieto wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

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Four reasons why the populist rage fueling Trump hasn’t trickled down to other Republicans

Marco Rubio wins the Senate primary in Florida.
Marco Rubio wins the Senate primary in Florida.
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Perhaps the biggest question of the 2016 presidential election is whether Donald Trump, his fervent supporters and the views they have espoused will irrevocably alter the GOP, or whether the businessman-turned-reality television star is an anomaly because of his celebrity and wealth.

The answer won’t be known until after the November election. But results in Tuesday night’s GOP primaries and some earlier contests suggest that the former is more likely. Here are some reasons that Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida won their primaries last night, and Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin notched decisive victories earlier this summer:

    Sen. John McCain, seen with wife Cindy, won the primary in Arizona.
    (Matt York / Associated Press)

    1. Love them or hate them, their constituents know McCain, Rubio, Shelby and Ryan. Some have served for decades; some have national profiles. All are household names in their home states.
    2. Their Republican primary opponents were little-known by comparison. With the exception of Carlos Beruff, a wealthy businessman who spent $8 million of his own money on his failed attempt to take down Rubio, the challengers were swamped by the incumbents’ fundraising.
    3. The political media and talking heads may have paid an outsized level of attention to the insurgents. But they were never going to receive a fraction of the billions of dollars’ worth of free television time that Trump has received.
    4. While Trump benefited from a surge in voting as he sought the GOP nomination, the primaries since have seen abysmal turnout. Low turnout is usually dominated by older, longtime voters, who tend to favor establishment candidates.
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    Trump responds to Vicente Fox’s criticism of Mexico visit: He invited me too

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    Former Mexican president on Trump: ‘He is not welcome’

    The political risks of Donald Trump’s visit to Mexico cut both ways.

    Not only does Trump face potential backlash from core supporters if he is perceived as softening on Mexico, but Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto also risks criticism if he cozies too closely to Trump.

    Former Mexican President Vicente Fox sees potential political disaster in the gamesmanship on both sides.

    “It’s nothing more than a political stunt,” said Fox, no fan of Trump, on CNN’s “New Day.”

    “Trump is using Mexico, using President Peña to boost his sinking poll numbers,” Fox said. “President Peña is taking an enormous political risk by hosting Trump. If he’s perceived as going soft on Trump, it will hurt him greatly.”

    Fox, who was president until 2006, and Peña Nieto are from opposing political parties in Mexico.

    But Fox captured the mood of many Mexicans on Trump.

    “He is not welcome to Mexico,” Fox said. “We don’t like him. We don’t want him. We reject his visit.”

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    Clinton tweets a list of Trump’s comments on Mexico

    Can’t remember what Donald Trump has tweeted in the past about Mexico? Hillary Clinton can help — she tweeted a list showing all of Trump’s tweets about Mexico in the past two years Wednesday.

    Ahead of Trump’s meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Clinton’s campaign offered a “refresher” on the Republican nominee’s comments about the country and its border with the U.S.

    “Trump announced his campaign for president by calling Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’ and criminals (‘and some, I assume, are good people,’ he added generously),” Clinton said in a statement on the post. “Trump has been publicly disparaging Mexican immigrants — and the entire nation of Mexico — for years.”

    Trump will also detail his hard-line immigration plan in a speech Wednesday.

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    Trump’s sudden trip to Mexico carries high-profile risks

    Donald Trump’s suddenly announced trip to Mexico upended the political landscape Wednesday as the Republican presidential nominee sought to reinforce an image as a leader willing to take bold political risks.

    Trump is all but certain to be met with protests ahead of his afternoon visit with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City. Trump has been highly unpopular with Mexicans after his disparaging remarks about them. In the U.S., more than 80% of Latinos view him as racist, according to polls.

    With the meeting scheduled hours before Trump’s highly anticipated speech on immigration Wednesday night in Phoenix, the moment also raises the stakes on an issue Trump has struggled to master since launching his campaign bashing by immigrants.

    “What the American people are seeing here today is the kind of decisive president Donald Trump will be,” running mate Mike Pence said on CNN’s “New Day.”

    The high-level meeting is bound to be as contentious inside as it is on the streets outside. Peña Nieto has compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, and officials have scoffed at Trump’s plan to have Mexico pay for his promised border wall.

    At the same time, a tete-a-tete could bring gravitas to the Trump campaign as he works to build voter trust in his ability as a world leader.

    “The opportunity Trump has is to raise his stature,” Ari Fleischer, the former White House spokesman for President George W. Bush, said on MSNBC.

    “If he can do anything that shows himself on a world level, a level of stature — even if the president of Mexico excoriates Donald Trump — if Trump responds in a thoughtful manner on a national stage, it’s a wonderful opportunity for him.”

    But Republican strategist Stu Stevens, who has been critical of Trump’s campaign, viewed the move as a last-ditch effort to beef up the candidate’s foreign policy credentials.

    “It’s almost like they woke up and realized we’re running against a former secretary of State, our guy used to do the Miss America pageant around the world — maybe we should heavy this up.”

    Both Trump and rival Hillary Clinton were invited last week by the Mexican president for a meeting, but Pence noted that Clinton was staying behind on the campaign trail in Ohio rather than taking up the offer.

    “The American people can see quite a contrast between Donald Trump — who gets an invitation with a world leader, drops what he’s doing, even with a major speech on the schedule tonight,” Pence said.

    Clinton was to speak to the American Legion convention in Cincinnati, a group Trump will address on Thursday.

    Clinton’s team quickly downplayed Trump’s visit to Mexico as a sideshow to his speech in Phoenix, where he has promised to explain his shifting immigration policy.

    “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,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said in a statement.

    “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.”

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    Clinton’s campaign downplays Trump’s surprise trip to Mexico

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    Donald Trump’s big speech on immigration could raise as many questions as it answers

    (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

    Donald Trump’s biting statements and blunt promises on immigration have been the core of his campaign since he announced his candidacy more than a year ago. But as he prepares to deliver a long-awaited speech on the subject Wednesday night in Phoenix, his once-forceful views have grown muddy.

    “I’m not sure what his immigration policy is going to be,” said Helen Aguirre Ferre, the head of Hispanic communications for the Republican National Committee, during an interview. “We’ll see on Wednesday.”

    Trump’s views rocketed him to the top of the GOP field and propelled him to the Republican nomination, but the issue has bedeviled him in the general election campaign. Only about 1 in 5 Latino voters supports him, according to a recent Fox News poll. Some strategists believe his sharp tone and unsparing policy proposals may also be dragging down his support among other groups of voters who recoil at the vision of rounding up 11 million immigrants who entered the country illegally.

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    Donald Trump still has a path to victory, but it’s a tough one, USC/L.A. Times poll shows

    (Brennan Linsley / Associated Press)

    Although he trails in nearly all national surveys and polls of most battleground states, Donald Trump still has a potential route to victory, albeit a difficult one that would require him to coax many people who sat out the last election to vote this time around, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak tracking poll finds.

    The existence of a bloc of disaffected voters large enough to potentially swing the election Trump’s way is the main finding from an analysis of the first eight weeks of the daily tracking poll.

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