It was supposedly love at first sight for Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner who welcomed an exuberant and much-needed Hispanic super fan on stage for a spontaneous endorsement on Thursday in Las Vegas.
“I swear to you, I think she’s totally beautiful and great, I never met her before I swear,” Trump told the crowd. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks later said the outburst was “completely spur of the moment.”
But by Saturday Trump’s story was starting to teeter. In an interview on Friday with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, the woman, a Colombian immigrant named Myriam Witcher, seemed to admit that the Trump campaign had contacted her prior to the rally.
“So did someone from the Trump campaign, Myriam, did they see what you posted on Facebook?” Baldwin asked. “Did someone from the campaign reach out to you?”
“I guess from the campaign, I guess,” Witcher replied, before lapsing into a fresh endorsement of the real estate mogul. “I touch my feelings. I go by my heart and I very simply like Mr. Trump. I just said what I feel.”
Baldwin pressed for clarification: “I’m just trying to ask did his campaign talk to you ahead of time?”
“Nobody,” Witcher answered. “It’s not something—I just only talk to God and my computer and my heart. That’s it.”
Whatever the source of the meeting, it was a strange one.
Politically, it was preternaturally well-timed for a candidate who has struggled to attract Latino voters. He’s accused Mexico of sending “rapists,” and people who are “bringing drugs” and “bringing crime” into the U.S. illegally. He’s also pledged to deport the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and build a “great” wall along the country’s southern border.
In light such policies, three in four Latinos say they have a negative view of Trump, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo survey. Myriam Witcher apparently is not one of them.
At the beginning of the rally on Thursday, Trump bragged about how much Latinos love him, because he employs them by the thousands in his company. Then, as he was talking about his recent appearance on the cover of People magazine, Witcher started yelling and waving a copy in the crowd.
He called her on stage, where she rippled with teeny-bopper excitement.
“I am Hispanic and I vote for Mr. Trump!” she proclaimed. “All the way to the White House.”
“And is this a set-up?” Trump asked Witcher, as she shook her head. “Did I ever meet you before?”
Witcher answered with bunny hops, blurting “We love you! We love you! We love you!”
Trump grinned and paced. He put his hands on her shoulders, then seemed to lower them to her hips. He kissed her at least three times.
On Friday, Witcher was asked by Baldwin whether she agreed with Trump’s harsh criticism of some immigrants and his hope for deportation.
“Mr. Trump is 100% right,” she said. “He’s our perfect man, he’s my perfect man, absolutely. He’s our man. Everything he said is absolutely right.”