• "They don't want criminals coming across the border. They don't want people taking their jobs. They want to have that security. And they want the wall. They want the wall," Trump remarked of Hispanic Americans.
  • Addressing CNN commentator Steve Cortes in the crowd, Trump said "He happens to be Hispanic, but I've never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do."
  • Trump has previously faced criticism for smears against Latin American migrants to the US.

US President Donald Trump made an ambitious pitch to Hispanic voters in the state of New Mexico on Monday night, a state he lost to Democrats by eight points in the 2016 presidential election.

"We're here, because we really think we're going to turn this state and make it a Republican state," Trump told supporters at the rally in Rio Rancho.

He went on to boast of low levels of Hispanic unemployment under his administration, praised Hispanic Heritage Month, and claimed that Hispanic Americans support his pledge to build a wall on the Mexican border to keep out undocumented immigrants from Latin American countries.

"They don't want criminals coming across the border. They don't want people taking their jobs. They want to have that security. And they want the wall. They want the wall."

Throughout the speech Trump launched into an ad-libbed dialogue with Steve Cortes, a CNN commentator and long-time supporter who is a member of Trump's Hispanic advisory committee, and was in the crowd.

"He happens to be Hispanic, but I've never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do," Trump said.

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Steve Cortes
Screenshot/Fox News

Shouting to Cortes across the arena, Trump said: "Nobody loves the Hispanics more. Who do you like more, the country or the Hispanics?"

Cortes' response was inaudible, so Trump answered for him.

"He says the 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. We love our Hispanics. Get out and vote."

Trump later claimed that Hispanic Americans support his border wall because they understand the US "drug crisis" better than other Americans.

"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,'" said Trump.

"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."

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Trump launched his presidential campaign back in 2015 with a notorious press conference in which he branded migrants from Mexico attempting to enter the US "criminals" and "rapists."

His support among Hispanic Americans has remained low, with a recent Pew survey finding that only around 20% of Hispanics approve of the job Trump is doing.

He is campaigning in New Mexico as part of a plan to offset potential losses in swing states that narrowly handed him victory in 2016 should they swing back to the Democratic Party in 2020.

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