Donald Trump returned Saturday to the heart of his presidential campaign -- promising to stop problems that illegal immigration has created for Americans, after a freewheeling few days in which he flung accusations and attacks at Democratic rival Hillary Clinton over gun control and the President Obama’s citizenship.
Trump delivered his law-and-order message to a gathering in Houston of Remembrance Project families, dedicated to helping themselves and others after killings at the hands of illegal immigrants.
“Your stories are not featured in the news. You have no demonstrators taking to the streets on your behalf. You have no special interests taking up your cause, and politicians ignore your cries for help. But I never will,” Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, said amid more recent polls showing him essentially deadlocked with Clinton in the White House race.
A Fox News poll released Thursday shows Clinton ahead of Trump by just 1 percentage point among likely voters in a four-way ballot. Clinton receives 41 percent and Trump 40 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 8 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 3 percent.
In the head-to-head matchup with Clinton, Trump leads by 1 percentage point.
Clinton, whose single-digit lead has slipped since mid-August, spoke Saturday evening in Washington, D.C., at a Black Caucus Foundation’s awards dinner, her third day on the campaign trail after taking off a few days to recover from pneumonia.
Trump, a first-time candidate, nabbed the GOP nomination from a field of experience politicians in large part with a tough immigration stance that included a vow to “build a wall” along the southern border to keep out dangerous illegal immigrants and to deport the estimated 11 million people now living illegally in the U.S.
After struggling in recent weeks to find an immigration policy that would appeal to voters in the general election, Trump has essentially returned to his hardline positions, while trying to portray Clinton, a former secretary of state, as soft on illegal immigration.
“The matter of this country refusing to take back their deported citizens came before Hillary Clinton’s (State Department) desk,” Trump said Saturday. “But she failed to take forceful action and ignored the federal law requiring her to suspend visas to countries that don’t take back their citizens.”
He also said she has declined Remembrance Project’s offers to meet and argued Clinton, if elected, would extend President Obama’s “open border” polices and attempts to delay deportation through executive action.
“She will only meet with the donors and the special interests and the open border advocates,” Trump said. “Her plan calls for total amnesty in the first 100 days. … Sanctuary Cities, ignoring visa overstays, closing detention centers and a virtual end to immigration enforcement in the United States.”
His comments follow a wild past few days in which the Clinton and Trump camps exchanged attacks -- with Trump again using innuendo to go after Clinton and attract free publicity.
On Wednesday, Trump declined to say definitively that President Obama was born in the United States -- roughly eight years after stoking controversy about his citizenship, then dropping the issue in 2011 when the president made public his birth certificate documents.
Trump on Friday declared the issue over, but not before suggesting that the Clinton campaign, in its hard-fought 2008 Democratic presidential primary against Obama, was pushing the rumor that he was born in Kenya.
Clinton said on Twitter that Trump pushing the birther issue was “deplorable.” And on Saturday, the campaign told Fox News that neither Clinton nor the 2008 campaign suggested Obama was born outside of the U.S.
Trump also made the statement at the end of a campaign event at his new luxury hotel in Washington, D.C. -- after suggesting beforehand to expect a “major announcement.”
And he mused aloud about what might happen if Clinton’s Secret Service detail no longer carried weapons, an apparent effort to further suggest Clinton, if elected, would further take away Americans’ rights to own guns.
"I think her bodyguards should drop all weapons. Disarm immediately," Trump said. "Take their guns away, let's see what happens to her."
Trump made a similar suggestion in May about her Secret Service detail.
The Clinton campaign denounced the most recent remarks.
“This kind of talk should be out of bounds for a presidential candidate,” said campaign manager Robby Mook. “He is unfit to be president, and it is time Republican leaders stand up to denounce this disturbing behavior in their nominee."