Republican front-runner Donald Trump evaded a question from veteran journalist Bob Woodward on Wednesday morning about whether or not he would go to war with Mexico if United States’ southern neighbor failed to pay for his proposed border wall.
“Trust me, Bob,” Trump said on a morning talk show. “When I rejuvenate our military Mexico is not going to play with us with war.”
Trump’s comments came after Woodward pressed the billionaire businessman on how he plans to force Mexico to pay for the proposed wall on U.S.’ southern border.
“First of all, Mexico is not going to build it, we’re going to build it,” Trump said. “The reason they’re going to pay and the way they’ll pay is this: we have a trade deficit now with Mexico of $58 billion a year and the wall is going to cost $10 billion a year.”
Trump’s comment about the proposed border wall has created a backlash from Mexico and promises from the country’s officials that they will not shell out any money for the wall.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto spoke out earlier this week for the first time against Donald Trump, saying that the Republican front runner’s rhetoric is damaging the relationship between the United States and Mexico.
“I am with those who regret and condemn this kind of [discriminatory] statements by Republican hopeful Donald Trump, they hurt the relationship with the U.S.," Peña Nieto told El Universal.
While Peña Nieto added that he is not worried about Trump actually winning the presidential election in November, he did say that his administration will “seek the path of mutual respect, constructive dialogue and bridges that allow us to really build a better relationship” with whoever gets elected.
Last month, former Mexican President Vicente Fox was not as guarded with his words when speaking about Trump and his proposed border wall.
"I’m not going to pay for that f***ing wall!” Fox told Jorge Ramos in an interview for Fusion. “He should pay for it. He’s got the money.”
The comments from Fox echoed those of his successor, Felipe Calderón, a few days before.
“Mexican people, we are not going to pay a single cent for such a stupid wall! And it's going to be completely useless,” Calderón told CNBC.
Trump’s rhetoric might be hurting U.S.-Mexican relations, but it has helped him speed out front in the race for Republican delegates. Following his wins in Mississippi, Michigan and Hawaii on Tuesday, Trump now has 461 delegates compared to Ted Cruz’s 359 and Marco Rubio’s 151.