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After VP debate, 'That Mexican Thing' continues to linger

Mike Pence told Tim Kaine this week, "You've whipped out that Mexican thing again." Little did he know what he was starting with this comment.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine  and Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speak during the Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University on Oct. 4, 2016 in Farmville, Va. (Photo by Andrew Gombert/Pool/Getty)
Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine  and Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speak during the Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University on Oct. 4, 2016 in Farmville, Va. 
In this week's vice presidential debate, Tim Kaine brought up Donald Trump's infamous condemnation of Mexicans on four separate occasions. The repeated emphasis was understandable: it's one of the soundbites -- which Trump specifically planned -- that's come to define the Republican's candidacy.But by Kaine's fourth reference, Mike Pence had heard enough. "Senator," Trump's running mate said, "you've whipped out that Mexican thing again."The candidates continued on for a while, going back and forth -- Pence complained about "criminal aliens ... perpetrating violence," while Kaine rejected using "a big broad brush against Mexicans" -- but it wasn't long before the Indiana governor's specific three-word phrase took on its own political salience.BuzzFeed's Adrian Carrasquillo explained this week why #ThatMexicanThing matters.

The moment came and went quickly, but blossomed on social media, where Latinos responded by highlighting the sacrifices their families have made in the country, leading both #ThatMexicanThing and #ThatMexicanThingAgain to trend on Twitter. [...]Democrats pounced almost immediately to try to ensure that "that Mexican thing" followed the [Alicia] Machado thing as a major post-debate storyline. The DNC released a statement afterwards calling the comment "offensive" and organized a call with Congressional Hispanic Caucus members on Wednesday.

CHC Chair Linda Sanchez told reporters the Latino community "is not forgetting 'that Mexican thing.''" On the same call, Rep. Ruben Gallego added, "I don't know if anybody else caught this, there was an audible gasp from the crowd when Pence said 'that Mexican thing.'"TPM's report noted that Hillary Clinton's campaign quickly bought the domain name and redirected it to her online donation page.The Washington Post's Greg Sargent added yesterday that the controversy is oddly appropriate given the circumstances: "On the one hand, for many Latinos, it seemed to neatly capture the hostility towards Mexican and undocumented immigrants that has long provided the Trump campaign with its driving energy.... On the other, given that Pence blurted out 'that Mexican thing' after finally growing frustrated with having to explain away that hostile quote, it also seemed to capture the annoyance many establishment Republicans (many of whom favor immigration reform and getting right with Latinos) seem to feel with having their party hijacked by the xenophobic Trump."In theory, I suppose the Trump/Pence campaign's Hispanic Advisory Council could give the Republican candidates some guidance on how best to deal with the backlash, but the panel seems unlikely to help: many of the council's members resigned in frustration several weeks ago.