The irrepressible Donald Trump has started 2016 presidential poll’s first big dust-up yet with his dogged defense of his launch-event rant against illegal immigrants.
And it’s playing out almost entirely in the Republican party, which, to its growing horror, finds itself confronting its worst fears about its continued disconnect from Hispanics.
“They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists,” Trump had said launching his campaign last month, about illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico.
The backlash was swift and strong. Both commercially — NBC TV network dropped his beauty pageants and Macy’s retail chain pulled Trump merchandise from its stores.
And politically — mostly from his on party. Asked if Trump’s remarks hurt the party, Mitt Romney, who ran against President Obama in 2012, said yes they had.
Trump’s rival for the Republican ticket, former governor Jeb Bush, whose wife is of Mexican origin, has said he has taken the real estate magnate’s statement personally. “Yeah, of course. Absolutely. And a lot of other people as well,” he said to reporters when asked he had taken the remark personally.
Ted Cruz, another rival, has defended Trump however, as have many other Republicans, who believe the issue of illegal immigration needs to be confronted, and straight on.