If you only read one thing: Donald Trump gave Dr. Jekyll a run for his money Wednesday as he delivered two drastically different statements on immigration and the role of immigrants in American society. Speaking in Mexico, Trump tried to pretend the first 15 months of his campaign, beginning with calling many Mexican immigrants to the U.S. “rapists,” never happened, saying he held immigrants “beyond reproach.” On policy, he tried to soften his to hardline stance of trade, arguing—seemingly in contradiction to his entire campaign to date—that it isn’t a zero-sum game. Too bad “Make the Western Hemisphere Great Again” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. But just hours later in Phoenix the same old Trump was back. He reinstated his call for a border wall and claimed Mexico would pay for it. He also called for a deportation force, promising to remove millions, if not all, of the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally starting on his first day in office. It was the sort of hawkish rhetoric that won him the GOP primary, but didn’t reflect his promised “softening” on the issue. In the end, Trump’s waffling over the last three weeks on the issue only seemed to aggravate his core supporters and won him few converts.
Trump, a political and geopolitical neophyte, is often graded on the curve by the press—and while many are touting that he appeared “presidential” in Mexico Wednesday, the reality is less clear. Trump seemed uncomfortable on stage standing next to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, never looking at him while an interpreter stood at his side whispering in his ear. Trump also found himself at odds with Peña Nieto after claiming that the pair didn’t “discuss” who would pay for the proposed border wall. Peña Nieto, who previously compared Trump to Hitler, has publicly stated that Mexico wouldn’t pay for it, and tweeted after the meeting that he reiterated the same to Trump. Trump may be trying to hide behind the implication that a discussion mutual, but he is the candidate who’s supposed to tell it like it is. The controversy ended up overshadowing the trip.
Hillary Clinton spent Wednesday delivering a foreign policy address, in which she sought to turn eight years of GOP attacks against President Obama against Trump. Arguing that Trump didn’t believe in American exceptionalism, Clinton advocated for a stronger and involved U.S. on the global stage, accusing her rival of being a stooge of Russian President Vladimir Putin and attacking his isolationist foreign policy proposals. It comes as Clinton is seeking to somewhat reverse the party divide on foreign policy as she seeks to appeal to hawkish Republicans unsettled by Trump.
Some Trump Hispanic surrogates walk after his day of whiplash. How Trump’s visit played in Mexico. (Hint: not well.) And the new politics of gun control.
Here are your must reads:
Donald Trump Pivots Back to Hardline Immigration Stance
It is as it ever was [TIME]
Donald Trump Tones It Down for Meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto
Tries to white-wash 16 months of criticism of Mexico in last-minute visit [TIME]
Former U.S. Commanders Take Increasingly Dim View of War on ISIS
As conflict enters its third year, endgame still elusive, TIME’s Mark Thompson writes
If Peña Nieto Was Trying to Distract Mexican Voters by Meeting Donald Trump, He Failed
Discontent over the meeting has been voiced by Mexicans across the spectrum, Ioan Grillo reports for TIME
Bill Clinton Used Tax Dollars to Subsidize Foundation, Private Email Support
Program for ex-presidents paid salaries and benefits to Clinton aides at the center of controversies [Politico]
A Candidate In Utah Blazes a Trail Just by Being Herself
TIME’s Katy Steinmetz profiles the first openly transgender candidate running as a major party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate
The New Politics of Gun Control
Democrats are finally leaning in, while Republicans talk compromise, TIME’s Philip Elliott reports
“My opponent in the race has said very clearly that he thinks American exceptionalism is insulting to the rest of the world. In fact, when Vladimir Putin, of all people, criticized American exceptionalism, my opponent agreed with him saying, and I quote, ‘If you are in Russia, you don’t want to hear that America is exceptional.’ Well maybe you don’t want to hear it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.” — Hillary Clinton to the American Legion Convention Wednesday
“Who pays for the wall? We didn’t discuss that.” — Trump in Mexico on his meeting with Enrique Peña Nieto, who later tweeted that he reaffirmed that Mexico would not pay for the wall
Bits and Bites
Donald Trump Dealt With a Series of People Who Had Mob Ties [Wall Street Journal]