Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump traveled to Mexico to meet with the country’s president Enrique Peña Nieto in an attempt to appear more civilized and nuanced toward relations with Hispanics. During Trump’s time in Mexico he appears to have flip-flopped on several of his key policy positions including building a border wall, and trade imbalances with Mexico due to NAFTA.
When asked by reporters about his meeting with President Peña Nieto, particularly as it relates to Trump’s border wall proposal, Trump said, “Who pays for the wall? We didn’t discuss. We did discuss the wall. We didn’t discuss payment of the wall. That’ll be for a later date.” Trump’s coyness on the matter comes as a surprise after he lambasted the Mexican government earlier in the year, decrying the country would pay for the entirety of the wall’s construction or they would face consequences from the United States.
During Trump’s speech he said, “I share my strong view that NAFTA has been a far greater benefit to Mexico than it has been to The United States, and that it must be improved upon to make sure that workers in both countries benefit from fair and reciprocal trade. I expressed that to The United states and that of The United States we must take action to stem this tremendous outflow of jobs from our country. It’s happening every day. It’s getting worse and worse and worse, and we have to stop it. Prosperity and happiness in both of our countries will increase if we work together.”
Trump’s statement is a complete flip-flop from his earlier positions that NAFTA needs to be eliminated. Suddenly Trump is in favor of fixing NAFTA, rather than removing it. In doing so he gives credence to Hillary Clinton, who has been in favor of NAFTA since her husband President Bill Clinton signed it into law in the first term of his presidency.
The visit to Mexico was unusual in how impulsive the trip began. Trump’s campaign announced the meeting on Tuesday, and on Wednesday Trump was visiting. Typically a meeting between foreign dignitaries in highly choreographed and the discussion points are mapped out months in advance. Trump has never met with a foreign leader before, so even the mere act of having a picture with one may have been his ultimate goal; to appear more presidential when his polling numbers are sinking as American voters become tired of his childish tirades and inconsistent policy positions. Time will tell if his latest stunt will have a lasting impact on his public image.
View Trump’s entire speech below: