Donald Trump’s trio of campaign stops over the weekend included a Phoenix rally with none other than embattled Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former State Senator Russell Pearce, author of Arizona’s notorious “Papers Please” law.
So much for that “tone it down” phone call from last week, Reince.
Arpaio praised Trump onstage for “getting a lot of heat” over his despicable remarks about Mexicans, and almost immediately brought up a shared interest between the two, specifically the bogus “Birther” conspiracy theory that President Obama’s birth certificate is a fake.
Arizona leaders had been dreading the event — and rightfully so — over the past few days. Phoenix’s mayor said Trump had his “First Amendment right” to speak in the city, but added that Trump’s “ignorant, deplorable and racist rhetoric” do not represent Phoenix.
Arizona’s most prominent Republicans — Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, coauthors of the Senate’s 2013 immigration bill — slammed the rally, with McCain calling Trump’s remarks “offensive,” and Flake urging the local sponsoring GOP group to pull the plug on the Trump event.
Jan Brewer’s successor, Republican Governor Doug Ducey, did not attend the event, either.
But, Trump being Trump, took the condemnation from fellow Republicans as yet another notch in his belt and doubled-down on his remarks about Mexicans to the sound of roaring approval from the older, mostly white crowd.
“Mexico — I respect the country,” Trump said in Phoenix. “They’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our manufacturing, they’re taking our money, they’re taking everything, and they’re killing us at the border.”
Trump, who recently called Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers, acknowledged: “The Mexican government is not happy with me, to put it mildly.”
As he has repeatedly since the making the comments forcefully criticized by members of his own party, Trump said he respected Mexico and the Mexican people. “But their leaders are too smart for our leaders, because we have stupid leaders, OK?” he said, to cheers and chants of “U-S-A!”
He added, “Don’t worry, we’ll take our country back. Very soon.”
His pledge to erect a wall along the entire southern border prompted shouts of, “Build the wall!”
Of course, when Trump claimed immigrants are stealing jobs from native-born Americans, he also neglected to mention to the crowd that immigrants are not only helping run his empire daily, but they’re also currently building his new swanky hotel in Washington, D.C.
Not to mention the brigade of undocumented Polish laborers who cleared the way for his crown jewel, the Trump Tower.
At one point during the rally, a small group of protesters, some of them local Arizona DREAMers, waved a sign condemning Trump’s racist remarks. As captured in a video clip, an older white man responded by angrily tearing the banner from the hands of the chanting protestors.
“I wonder if they Mexican government sent them here. I think so,” Trump wondered out loud to the booing crowd, which then cheered “USA! USA! USA!” as the group was escorted out of the event.
Trump didn’t limit his anti-Latino tirades to just Phoenix, either. According to Talking Points Memo, Trump told a group of Hollywood conservatives that the United States “should have invaded Mexico” instead of Iraq.
While Trump’s comments have resonated with the nativist branch of the Republican Party — a new poll puts him in first place among all Republicans nationally for the first time — members of the party concerned about the future of the GOP among Latinos are extremely concerned.
“I think he’s uninformed about the situation regarding the illegal immigrant population,” fellow Republican Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union” yesterday, currently the only GOP candidate still in favor of a path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“I think he has hijacked the debate. I think he is a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican party with the Hispanic community and we need to push back.”
But, judging how little effect the RNC chair’s phone call had on Trump’s rhetoric, don’t expect to see Trump backing down any time soon.