EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — In a surprise move, Donald Trump is considering traveling to Mexico on Wednesday, just hours before delivering a highly anticipated speech on immigration, according to a campaign official.
The discussions about a possible last-minute trip come as Trump seeks to clarify his stand on illegal immigration, a contentious issue that has been a centerpiece of his Republican presidential campaign. Trump has long called for deporting people currently living in the U.S. illegally and building a wall along the country’s border with Mexico.
But in meetings recently with Hispanic supporters, Trump has suggested he could be open to changing the hardline approach he outlined during the GOP primaries. After one such roundtable this month, his new campaign manager said Trump’s stance on deportations was “to be determined.”
In the days since, Trump and his staff have broadcast varied and conflicting messages, with Trump himself saying one day he might be open to “softening” his stance, and days later saying he might, in fact, be “hardening.”
Last week, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto — who has been critical of Trump’s insistence that Mexico would pay for the wall — invited both the Republican nominee and Democrat Hillary Clinton to visit his country. His office says the invitation was well received, but meetings with the candidates have not been confirmed.
The Washington Post first reported the potential trip, adding Trump hopes to meet with Pena Nieto.
Trump is scheduled to speak on immigration Wednesday evening in Phoenix. He was already out West on Tuesday for a campaign stop near Seattle, conceivably giving him enough time to jet down to Mexico for a brief visit before the evening speech.
Foreign trips by presidential candidates, even to a neighboring country such as Mexico, are an enormous logistical and security undertaking. It’s unclear whether Trump could receive clearance from Secret Service to make the trip or whether his small campaign team could organize the logistics in time for even a short visit.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a close Trump adviser, has been among those pushing Trump to make the trip, according to a person familiar with their conversations. Christie made his own successful trip to Mexico City in September 2014, and has a warm relationship with the Mexican president.
Both the campaign official and the person with knowledge of Trump’s conversations about the trip insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the internal campaign discussions.