Trump asks CNN contributor: “Who do you like more — the country or the Hispanics?"

President Donald Trump made racist remarks about the Latinx community during a political rally in New Mexico

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published September 17, 2019 6:03PM (EDT)

Donald Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci/Getty Images/Cengiz Yar)
Donald Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci/Getty Images/Cengiz Yar)

Racist remarks about the Latinx community filled President Donald Trump’s political rally Monday in New Mexico.

At one point during the event, Trump questioned how CNN contributor Steve Cortes could be Hispanic.

”He happens to be Hispanic, but I never quite figured it out, because he looks more like a WASP than I do," the president reportedly said.

Trump then asked Cortes, "Who do you like more: the country or the Hispanics?"

After Cortes responded "country," Trump said: "I don’t know. I may have to go for the Hispanics, to be honest with you. We got a lot of Hispanics."

The president later claimed that Hispanics should support him and his proposed southern border wall because of their supposed ability to empathize with the drug crisis.

"And at the center of America's drug crisis — this is where the Hispanics know it better than anybody — people said, 'Oh, the Hispanics won't like a wall.' I said, 'I think they are going to love it.' You know why? Because you understand it better than other people. But at the whole center of this crisis is the drugs that are pouring in, and you understand that when other people don't understand it," Trump said.

The president later claimed that “nobody loves the Hispanics more” than himself. “We love our Hispanics,” he said. “Get out, and vote."

This is far from the first time that Trump, who launched into the political spotlight by pushing the racist birther conspiracy about former President Barack Obama, has vilified the Latino community. As he announced his presidential campaign in 2015, Trump told the audience that undocumented Mexican immigrants were "bringing crime” into the U.S and were “rapists." In June 2016, he attacked federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was then presiding over two class-action lawsuits against Trump University, by claiming that Curiel had "an absolute conflict" of interest, since he was building a wall and the judge was "of Mexican heritage.”

The president has also been accused of racism in his policies. Speaking with Salon in February, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said Trump was a racist, because "he has painted a picture in public of a horde of rapists and murderers surging across our border that have to be stopped. But his attorney general's office and Homeland Security have been absorbed with the issue of a transition, from Mexican men who are coming to the border looking for work to families who are fleeing the drug gangs of Central America. So he has inaccurately described the immigration challenge and he developed a strategy to deter families that was based on injuring children."

Last year, former Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill, told Salon that Trump's insufficient response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was also a sign of racism.

"He has never seen value in people of color," Gutiérrez said. "He has never seen value in the diversity of this nation. He only sees value in the base of people that elected him president of the United States. And guess what? Puerto Ricans weren't part of that base of people.

He added, "So it is political for this president. Because when the president says, 'Mexicans are murderers and rapists and drug dealers,' please understand that his message is that Latinos are this."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, World War II historian Joshua Levine (consultant to "Dunkirk"), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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