Donald Trump said Latinos should not feel slighted after he called Mexican immigrants drug dealers and "rapists," while vowing that he will take aggressive legal action against the TV network that dropped their business deal over his incendiary remarks.
In a Thursday interview with msnbc and Telemundo host Jose Diaz-Balart, Trump stood by comments he made during his June 16 presidential campaign launch, insisting repeatedly: "I love the Mexican people."
"I have had tremendous relationships with Mexico for many, many years, tremendous relationships, and frankly that's very important to me," Trump said. He went on to say the leaders of Mexico are "far smarter" than America's and that they're "totally taking advantage" of the country on trade.
"I'm running for president, I'm at the top of the polls and one of the reasons is that I wouldn't let that happen to the United States," he added.
Under a Trump administration, the former reality TV star claimed that the U.S. and Mexico would "cherish" each other. He argued that right now there is a lot of "animosity" between the two countries because Mexico is "making all the money."
The real estate mogul also condemned Univision for breaking a 5-year contract in its announcement earlier this morning that the Spanish-language TV network would not broadcast pageants from the business Trump co-owns.
"They’re not allowed to do this ... they have an iron-clad contract to broadcast Miss USA and Miss Universe," Trump told Diaz-Balart. He claimed that Univision representatives in "very high positions" had reached out to him to apologize for reneging on the deal.
"Univision called me and they apologized for what they’re doing because they felt so stupid and so guilty," he said. "They called like little lambs."
For several years the billionaire and real estate mogul has publicly floated the possibility of launching a presidential campaign. And in his first official bid for the Republican nomination, Trump has faced considerable backlash and outrage over his incendiary campaign announcement last week.
"I love Mexico. I love the Mexican people. But they are taking advantage of the stupidity, and the very stupid negotiators and politicians, that we have in the United States."'
Before Univision pulled the plug on Trump, popular Colombian singer J Balvin, who was scheduled to perform at the Miss USA pageant, was the first to back out (though Trump claims he had "never heard of him" and Balvin had not signed a contract.) "I don't think he's very good from what I've heard," said Trump. Mexico has also threatened to boycott the pageant. NBC, the home of Trump's "Apprentice" franchise, also released a statement Thursday saying, "Donald Trump's opinions do not represent those of NBC, and we do not agree with his positions on a number of issues, including his recent comments on immigration."
Still, Trump refused to back down in his interview with Diaz-Balart, claiming that "hundreds of thousands" of people cross through the southwestern border unchecked from regions across the world. Trump went on to suggest that "nobody knows" if terrorists had successfully entered the U.S. illegally.
"You’re going to have terrorists coming through the southern border, there’s no doubt about it," Trump said.
"This has nothing to do with Mexico other than if you want to become a citizen of Mexico it's almost impossible and yet Mexico allows these people to flow freely right through Mexico right over our borders and it has to stop," he added.
The 2016 Republican presidential candidate has proposed building a wall to keep immigrants out. "Mexico will pay for that wall," Trump said. "The only good news is I know how to build it for the proper price but it'll be a real wall, it's not going to be like a sieve where people can walk right through it."
When asked about his surge in the polls into second place behind Jeb Bush in early primary states, Trump said, "I'm not big fan of Jeb Bush" and predicted that the former Florida governor couldn't beat Hillary Clinton in a general election contest. He also called Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts "a total disaster" in the wake of the court's ruling on Obamacare, which Trump promised he would replace it elected.
Pressed by Diaz-Balart to explain how he would improve upon the president's signature legislation, Trump said, "Well that's a long story."