Mexico will never pay for Trump’s wall, President Enrique Peña Nieto declares - then compares him to Hitler

Mr Trump’s pledges to crack down on immigration, curb free trade and return manufacturing jobs to the US play well in Michigan

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The Independent US

The President of Mexico has said his country will never pay for the border wall being proposed by Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, describing the billionaire’s “strident rhetoric” as reminiscent of Adolf Hitler. 

President Enrique Peña Nieto’s outspoken remarks, published on Monday in Mexico’s Excelsior newspaper, echoed those of his predecessors Felipe Calderón and Vicente Fox, who have both compared Mr Trump to the Nazi dictator in recent weeks.

The Republican front- runner has built his White House bid partly on a platform of antagonism towards Mexico, promising to build a wall the length of the southern US border to keep out Mexican “rapists and drug traffickers”. He has repeatedly said Mexico will fund its construction. Mr Peña Nieto said there was “no scenario” in which his government would pay for the wall.

The Mexican President went on: “There have been episodes in human history, unfortunately, where these expressions of this strident rhetoric have only led to very ominous situations. That’s how Mussolini got in, that’s how Hitler got in – they took advantage of a situation, a problem perhaps, which humanity was going through at the time, after an economic crisis.” The rise of fascism, he added, had led to “global  conflagration”.

Mr Trump’s verbal attacks on Mexico may have alienated many US Latinos, but they have served him well among white, low-income voters without college degrees. Today, he plans to expand his coalition of supporters to include the so-called “Reagan Democrats” of the US Rust Belt, as the Republican presidential race sweeps into Michigan. Polls give the property mogul a double-digit lead over his rivals in today’s primary election in the state.

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Last week he held a large rally in Macomb County, whose blue-collar industrial workers were found by pollsters to have swung dramatically from the Democrats to Ronald Reagan during the 1980 election, helping to clinch that Republican victory. Now those voters appear to be flocking to Mr Trump, potentially posing a threat to Democrats across the Midwest – not just in Michigan but also in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Mr Trump’s pledges to crack down on immigration, curb free trade and return manufacturing jobs to the US play well in Michigan, home of the troubled US car industry. On the campaign trail, he has made much of a new $2.5bn Ford plant in Mexico; speaking in Macomb, he vowed to impose hefty tariffs on vehicles manufactured there. 

Mr Trump has denied claims of a personal relationship with an alleged racist mobster who was a regular at one of his casinos. Trump Plaza in Atlantic City was fined $200,000 (£140,000) after a 1991 investigation found the casino removed black dealers from its tables at the request of Robert LiButti, who had hurled slurs at its female and African-American workers.

The late Mr LiButti, who had ties to mafia boss John Gotti, socialised with Mr Trump several times, his daughter Edith Creamer told Yahoo News. But, in a statement, Mr Trump said: “I knew many high-rollers. I assume Mr LiButti was one of them, but I don’t recognise the name.”