SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ACB4 News) - Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump went south of the border today crossing into Mexico to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The meeting happening hours before Trump delivers an immigration policy speech in Arizona.
It's a meeting between two of the most disliked political figures among Latinos and Mexicans. Nieto, a president plagued with scandal...
"Us Mexicans hate Peña Nieto more than we do Trump," says Heri Uribe, "Peña Nieto will sell out the people. Why? Cuz the corruption has hit the government and they don't care about the people."
...and Trump, a presidential nominee that has struggled connecting with minorities -- especially Latinos -- since entering the race for the White House.
"Since he started his run for the White House all he's done is call us names," says Latino Activist Tony Yapias. "He's burned his bridges with the Latino community and throughout the country."
"Dos Ratas," says Gaby Marble via Facebook, "Ni uno, ni el otro son buenos para Mexico. Y la comunidad Hispana no los aprueba," which translates in English as, "Two rats. Not one nor the other is better for Mexico, and the Hispanic community does not approve."
This afternoon in a meeting with Peña Nieto, Trump took a different approach to describing Mexicans.
"Mexicans are beyond reproach spectacular, spectacular, hard working people," he said.
It's a much different tone than what Yapias and Latinos say they are use to hearing from the GOP nominee. Describing it as a 180 from the tone he took during the primaries where he described Mexicans as criminals and rapists.
"In order to win the White House this year he needs at least 20% of the Latino vote. Mitt Romney needed at least 30% and he got 27. So, he's not gonna get 27%. He'll be lucky if he gets 10% of the Latino vote. So, he's burned his bridges with the Latino community and throughout the country. Latinos are not buying his last ditch effort to get more Latinos to support him," says Yapias.
He says that is what Latinos see Trumps visit to Mexico as, his final attempt to make amends with a community he knows he can't win without.
"It's hard to believe him. He's a big flip flopper now. Obviously he has to change because he needs the support of the Latinos, says Yapias. "He's not gonna change my mind. He's not gonna change the mind of thousands of Latinos here in Utah in terms of which way they're gonna vote."
Latinos have made up their mind about who they will vote for in the November election he says, and it wont be Trump.
"I think it's way too late in the game now," says Yapias.
But not everyone sees Trump's visit to the Mexican presidential palace as a bad thing.
"At least Trump is looking for solutions to a big problem," says Tara Larsen.
In the closed meeting Peña expressed his sentiments towards Trumps rhetoric against Mexicans saying the Mexican people felt hurt by his comments. He also said his first priority is to look out for the safety of all Mexicans in the homeland and elsewhere.
The two discussed how to clear up misunderstandings and how to understand one another. Building a constructive US/Mexico relationship, making the border secure, safe and efficient. ABC News later tweeted that the two had spoken about a wall but that Trump had not mentioned anything about payment. Nieto later tweeting that he would not pay for a wall.
"Having a secure border is a sovereign right and mutually beneficial," Trump said in a joint press conference with Peña Nieto. "We recognize and respect the right of either country to build a physical barrier or wall on any of its borders to stop the illegal movement of people."
"I don't think he can back off the wall," said Sen. Todd Weiler (R) - District 23. "And I think a lot of Americans would like to see not only a wall but a reasonable immigration process."
Weiler says he still has not warmed up to the thought of a Trump presidency but believes this meeting with Mexico is a move to make him appear more presidential and says that is something the GOP needs.
"He does a lot of things that doesn't make him look presidential so, I think in that extent it will help him. A lot of voters are trying to visualize who they can see in the White House next year," says Weiler. "I think when Trump goes to the flood victims in Louisiana -- when the President and Hillary don't -- and when Trump goes and meets with the heads-of-state it makes him look presidential."
Senator Weiler believes Trumps meeting with Mexico's president will have a mixed reaction among Utah's Latino community. On one hand he thinks some Latino's will be glad Trump is meeting with Mexico's leader rather than "spouting off hateful rhetoric or something that might be construed as hateful." And on the other he says some Latinos would see it as disappointing that the president would extend an invitation to meet with Trump. But he says the meeting wont help Trump a whole lot.
"It might help him very marginally 2 or 3 percent, I don't think you're gonna see this huge bounce with the Latino community for Trump because of the meeting. His immigration speech -- that may give him a better bump i think," says Weiler.
Trump is set to give an immigration speech in Arizona tonight. It's a speech many like Weiler and Yapias will be watching and anxiously waiting to hear what he says.
"I think tonight I'm hoping Trump will moderate his message a little bit, appeal to more people and sound and act presidential. That's been the biggest complaint is that sometimes he acts like a school boy, tyrant or a bully - childish and says stupid stuff, and we kinda need a leader right now," says Weiler.
He says he's "looking for a rational pragmatic approach with dealing with where we are today on immigration."
Weiler adds the meeting and his speech today helps paint Trump as a leader and believes it will help him in the long run.
"I think he's starting to listen to other people. I think he's starting to take a moral-rational-moderate approach to some of these volatile issues," he says.
But, with that approach, Weiler says, he runs the risk of alienating the very group of people he catered to during the primaries to win the nomination.
Democrats say Trump is just being opportunistic and will flip-flop on his position to fit his audience.
"Now, he's trying to back track what he says and soften what he says and I don't think the Latino community and the American people are going to buy that," says Utah Democratic Chair Peter Coroon.
As the Trump campaign prepares to hit the Beehive State on Thursday bringing his Vice-Presidential Nominee, Mike Pence, for a rally. Coroon says Trump nor Pence share the views of Utahns and says tonights speech in Arizona will re-affirm that.
"Sometimes he says one thing to one person, another thing to somebody else and I have a feeling what he says in Mexico he wont be saying the same thing to the people in Arizona," he says.
Donald Trump will hit the stage at the Phoenix Convention Center in Downtown Phoenix at 9 PM/ET.
Meanwhile, President Peña Nieto has also extended an invitation to meet with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and he hopes to meet with her soon. She has said she would like to meet with him when the time is right. Via Twitter the official page of the Mexican government tweeted that in the past it has extended an invitation to meet with presidential nominees to begin building a mutual relationship with the future leader of the United States.
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