WASHINGTON -- Never mind that thousands of Latinos across the country have responded with outrage, petitions and protests to Donald Trump’s remarks about Mexican immigrants. Trump thinks he’s going to win the Latino vote in 2016.
“I’ll win the Latino vote because I’ll create jobs. I’ll create jobs and the Latinos will have jobs they didn’t have. I’ll do better on that vote than anybody. I will win that vote,” Trump told NBC News’ Katy Tur on Wednesday. “I have a great relationship with the Mexican people. They love me, I love them.”
But at this point, garnering a big chunk of the Hispanic vote seems pretty unlikely for Trump, a real estate mogul and reality TV star who is running for the Republican nomination. During his presidential campaign launch, Trump promised to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
The fallout from those remarks has been immense. First, Spanish-language Univision announced that it would not air Trump's Miss Universe pageant. Trump blasted the decision as political and vowed to sue the network. Then NBC withdrew from covering the pageant. After a petition collected signatures online, Macy’s announced it would no longer carry Trump-branded clothing or colognes. And then the company that made the clothes cut ties with Trump. Celebrities began to pull their charity golf tournaments from Trump-owned courses, and on Wednesday the PGA announced it would relocate its Grand Slam of Golf event planned for the candidate's course in Los Angeles in October.
Trump, however, seems undeterred. “Yeah, I’m losing some contracts, who cares. People – politically they’re weak and they want to be politically correct,” he told NBC. “Compared to what I have, it doesn’t matter ... I would still do this.”
He took credit for pushing the immigration issue. “You wouldn’t be hearing about the word immigration if it weren’t for Donald Trump,” he said. “I brought the whole subject up!”
Republicans in Washington have been cringing as Trump’s comments about Mexicans continued to drive the election narrative. The GOP has long identified winning Hispanic voters as key to future electoral success, and a debate about whether Mexican immigrants are rapists is the opposite of positive outreach for the party.
In a clear sign that the comments are problematic for Republicans, several candidates have admonished Trump for his remarks. Jeb Bush, whose wife is Mexican, said he was “personally offended” by the remarks. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry also said he was offended.