Donald Trump is heading to the border Thursday, as his rhetoric on illegal immigration and his very public feud with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry escalates.
The real estate mogul and Republican 2016 presidential candidate will tour the U.S.-Mexican border in Laredo, Texas with the media in tow. He plans to host a meet-and-greet with the Border Patrol’s union leadership before traveling to the border and speaking with reporters. Trump will then head to a reception hall to meet with local law enforcement officials who “will be invited” as well as member of the press, a media release states.
The trip seems designed to highlight Trump’s no-holds-barred views on illegal immigration – he’s said drug dealers and “rapists” are streaming across the border into the U.S. unabated and that he’ll convince Mexico to fund the construction of a wall across the 1,989 mile border. It’s also a clear move to capitalize on the momentum he’s enjoyed in recent weeks as his poll numbers have risen. Thousands turned out to see Trump at a rally in Phoenix last weekend where he campaigned with notoriously anti-immigrant Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The visit is also likely to up the ante in Trump’s feud with Republican rival Rick Perry, who he’s accused of mishandling the border. “He put glasses on so people will think he’s smart. It just doesn’t work. People can see through the glasses,” Trump said at at campaign stop on Tuesday in South Carolina. “I say he did a lousy job on the border.” Perry on Wednesday shot back, “I hope he can find the border cause I’m not sure he’s ever been there before.”
Trump made illegal immigration a focal point of his presidential announcement last month. His incendiary remarks about undocumented immigrants earned him notoriety, international outrage, and have lead to the loss of prominent business ties, but Trump has refused to retract his statements, repeatedly telling reporters his sources on the border can confirm that the government of Mexico is forcing its nation’s criminals across the border.
Meanwhile, Perry’s campaign has released a video of Trump praising his ultimately failed 2012 presidential run. The footage includes a tweet from Trump which reads: “Texas is lucky to have him —- @GovernorPerry is a great guy!” Perry has previously called on Trump to drop out of the 2016 race in the wake of his controversial remarks regarding John McCain’s war record.
In a Wednesday post on Instagram, Trump shared a 2012 photo of him and Perry with the caption: “@GovernorPerry in my office last cycle playing nice and begging for my support and money. Hypocrite!”
During his remarks at the Opportunity and Freedom PAC forum in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Perry lit into Trump, calling his candidacy “toxic” and the former reality TV star the leader of a “know-nothing movement.”
“Let no one be mistaken – Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded,” Perry said. “It cannot be pacified or ignored, for it will destroy a set of principles that has lifted more people out of poverty than any force in the history of the civilized world – and that is the cause of conservatism.”