Trump's Press Conference With Mexican President Peña Nieto Was Not A Disaster. [UPDATE: Never Mind] | Gradient

Donald Trump’s press conference with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was not a total catastrophe. [UPDATE: Never mind]


Congratulations to Donald Trump, a man in the news, for holding a press conference with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto that was not a failure. In fact, the general consensus was that it did Trump more harm than good, which just goes to show you how low the bar is for Trump these days. Basically, anytime he appears in public without pushing the world closer to World War III it is a success.

And he didn’t push the world closer to WWIII, but it was made clear that Trump has a lot of work to do with winning Peña Nieto over to his side on the issue. Peña Nieto spoke highly of free trade — something Trump is staunchly against — and also noted that illegal immigration across the US-Mexico border actually peaked ten years ago and has dropped dramatically in recent years. Peña Nieto also took time to criticize the influx of guns and money that go to Mexico from the US, a reversal of Trump’s narrative that sees the US suffering from Mexican influence. These are big, big points of disagreement with no easy compromise.

That said, Peña Nieto did restate that he was open to revising the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — something Trump has railed against in the past. Also, in a notable win for Trump, Peña Nieto took Trump seriously. Again, these are not high bars to clear, but when you’re a guy like Trump with a history of talking about Mexicans the way Trump has, you take the Ws you can get.

And so on.

The problem is that a press conference in which nobody dies, and there are no explicitly racist slurs does not presidential material make. At this point in the campaign, (69 days to go) Trump’s goalposts are such that he can pretty much dive into the end zone at will. It’d be giving the Trump campaign too much credit to say this was their plan all along, but as an accidental strategy, it’s a cunning one.

Of course, in a significant L, Trump admitted that while he and Peña Nieto discussed “the wall,” they did not get to talking about who’s going to pay for it. That’s a glaring hole in Trump’s reputation as a no-nonsense, tough-talking negotiator, and it will come back to bite him in the campaign.

UPDATE: Never mind. A Peña Nieto spokesman told Reuters that Peña Nieto told Trump Mexico would not be paying for the wall. Either Trump misunderstood, Peña Nieto is lying or Trump is lying. Either way, the bar remains breathlessly low, but Trump failed to clear it.

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