Donald Trump is not backing down.
Two weeks after he drew criticism for calling Mexicans crossing the U.S. border drug dealers and "rapists" while announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, the billionaire businessman said he wouldn't take the comments back.
"No, because it's totally accurate," Trump said in an interview Tuesday with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. "The border is a disaster, Bill. People are pouring in -- and I mean illegal people, illegal immigrants -- and they're pouring in. Three hundred and some odd thousand are in your state jails right now, according to Homeland Security."
"In terms of rape -- this is an amazing statistic -- 80% of Central American women and girls are raped crossing into the U.S.," Trump added. "It's hard to believe even."
Trump's inflammatory remarks about Mexico and Mexican immigrants have cost him dearly. On Monday, NBC Universal (the parent company of msnbc) announced it had joined Univision in severing ties with the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageant series, which Trump co-owns. On Tuesday, Mexico also said it would not participate in the pageant, and a television company owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim cancelled a planned project with Trump.
Asked whether he would rephrase his verbal attack on Mexico, Trump told O'Reilly, "absolutely I can't change it."
"I love Mexican people. I have a tremendous relationship. I also respect Mexico. But Mexico is doing a tremendous number against us in trade, Trump said in the interview Tuesday. "They're taking our jobs, they're taking our manufacturing, and they're taking our money."
His brash rhetoric hasn't hurt him at the polls, however. The latest Suffolk poll showed Trump in second place in New Hampshire, behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The survey drew skepticism, but just a day later, a Fox News poll also showed Trump second among Republican primary voters nationwide, with Bush in the lead and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson a close third.