Trump says will win Hispanic vote despite immigrant storm
Donald Trump doubled down Friday on his controversial claim that Mexico is sending criminals to the United States -- but insisted he was misrepresented, and really likes Mexico and Mexicans, AFP reports.
The colorful US property magnate turned Republican White House hopeful also asserted that he will win more Hispanic votes than his rivals, including Democrat Hillary Clinton.
He made his comments after meeting with a group of families who have had loved ones killed by immigrants in the United States illegally.
"So you have the illegals come in and the illegals kill their children, and we better get smart in the United States," he told reporters, after the private meeting at a Beverly Hills hotel.
"Whenever somebody hears that it was an illegal that was involved with the death of their children, it becomes politically incorrect for a politician to help them. That's how messed up our nation is."
Trump triggered a firestorm when, announcing his White House bid last month, he said Mexico was "sending people that have lots of problems... They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."
Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, NBC and Macy's have all cut business ties with Trump, who also stars in his reality television show "The Apprentice."
On Friday the tycoon claimed they had "chickened out" because of the public outcry. But he insisted he had only been talking about immigrants in the United States illegally, not legal migrants, and said he was also not about Mexicans or Mexico itself, but about their leaders.
"Everybody knows that I have great relationships with Mexican people. I have many, many people who work for me who are Mexican. They're phenomenal people. I love them. They're enormously talented. I have great respect for the country of Mexico," he said.
But he added: "The problem is the country of Mexico has leaders that are far smarter than our leaders, far more cunning than our leaders.
"Their negotiators are much better than our negotiators. And they're sending people to our country that we don't want but we take, and they don't want. And you know who they're sending."
Trump insisted that the furor over his remarks would not harm his prospects at the polls.
"When it's all said and done I will win the Hispanic vote over the Democrat, whoever it may be, probably Hillary Clinton, because I will create jobs for the Hispanics, and nobody else will," he said.
"I'll take jobs from China and all these other countries... You have no idea how many calls I'm getting, emails, Twitter, from people, from Mexico, saying 'Mr Trump you're right, you're right.'"