Donald Trump dedicated a good deal of his campaign announcement speech on Tuesday to rail against United States' southern neighbor, saying Mexico was sending criminals to the U.S. and claiming that he would build a wall on the U.S.'s border and make Mexico pay for it.
In a rambling, hour-long speech filled with as much self-praise as political insight, the billionaire real estate mogul lashed out at Mexico for the thousands of undocumented immigrants who have fled to the U.S.
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," Trump said. “They're not sending you…They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."
Trump echoed claims he made last month during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network in which he said that Mexico has "ripped this country off."
"Nobody can build a fence like me," Trump said. "I would build a wall like nobody can build a wall. And nobody comes in illegally anymore…I build great buildings all over the world. I would have Mexico pay for it. Believe me. They will pay for it because they have really ripped this country off," he said.
Trump also criticized U.S. companies like Ford Motor Co. for building factories in Mexico instead of the U.S. and said if he were elected president he would impose harsh taxes on imports from Mexico.
"When do we beat Mexico at the border?" Trump asked. They're laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they're killing us economically."
Of the vehicles built in North America last year, Mexico built about one in five, or double the rate from 2004 and WardsAuto, which tracks production data, expects the rate to increase to one in four by 2020. The U.S., however, is also adding jobs in the auto industry, especially in the southern states.
Mexico, however, wasn't the only one to incur the wrath of Trump in the candidate's speech. In fact, almost nobody – from President Barack Obama to his fellow Republican candidates to pretty much every country in the Middle East – escaped Trump's criticism.
"Our country is in serious trouble. We don't have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don't have them," Trump said.
Trump is now positioned to have a greater impact on the early months of the Republican presidential primary contest than many GOP leaders would like.
Should he get in, Trump would be required to release a personal financial disclosure that would reveal intimate details about his personal finances. The disclosure would include his net worth, sources of income, liabilities and assets. He would have to reveal the same information for his wife and dependent children.
The financial disclosure, required of all candidates for president, was thought to be the final obstacle blocking Trump from launching a 2016 campaign.
Based on guidelines recently announced by the television networks, Trump could play a prominent role in the upcoming nationally televised Republican debates.
Those who rank in the top 10 in national polls — and Trump currently does, although he's close to the bottom — will earn a place on the debate stage. That could place Trump in a debate alongside leading candidates such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.
"Selfishly, the networks would put me on because I get great ratings," Trump said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.