In two appearances in Los Angeles Friday, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump insisted that he has nothing to apologize for in his continued attacks on Mexican immigrants.
The real estate mogul and former TV personality first made a campaign stop in Beverly Hills surrounded by people whose relatives had been killed by immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.
“I have no problem apologizing when I’ve done something wrong,” Trump said. “I don’t care about endorsements. I only care about the endorsement of the people.”
On Friday night, Trump attended a private meeting of roughly 600 right-leaning actors, directors, producers and screenwriters. At the event, sponsored by the leading Hollywood conservative group, Friends of Abe, the candidate played the role of rebel hero.
“I went there really wondering whether this man could really be president of the United States — I came away believing that yes he could,” one attendee told TheWrap. “He makes more sense when you hear him in his own words.”
Outside the private evening event at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel in Brentwood, about 150 protesters gathered to denounce Trump’s positions and symbolically bash piñatas.
In the weeks since he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and criminals in his campaign announcement speech, Trump has been the target of backlash, with several major companies, including NBC Universal and Macy’s, cutting ties to the candidate for fear of alienating Latinos.
Despite the controversy, Trump’s stance against illegal immigration has propelled him to the lead over 15 other GOP presidential candidates, according to an Economist/YouGov poll.
One constituency whose support Trump has won: families whose loved ones have been killed by immigrants. They include Don Rosenberg, whose son Drew, 25, was killed in 2010 by an unlicensed driver who was in the U.S. illegally. “Nobody wants to hear from us,” Rosenberg said at Trump’s campaign event Friday. “The system is really screwed up.”
Althea Shaw, whose nephew Jamiel Shaw Jr. was murdered in 2008 near his home in Arlington Heights, Calif., home by a gang member, told reporters, “We love Mr. Trump. We’re happy because he spoke up.”
While his comments on Mexico have drawn the ire from many in the Hispanic community, the GOP presidential hopeful said he has “great respect for the country of Mexico” for outsmarting “dumb” U.S. leaders. “They’re sending people into this country that they don’t want and we don’t want.”
Trump insisted that the anger over his remarks would not harm his prospects at the polls.
“When it’s all said and done, I will win the Hispanic vote over the Democrat, whoever it may be, probably Hillary Clinton, because I will create jobs for the Hispanics, and nobody else will,” he said Friday. “I’ll take jobs from China and all these other countries… You have no idea how many calls I’m getting, emails, Twitter, from people, from Mexico, saying, ‘Mr Trump you’re right, you’re right.'”
Asked what he would do to fix the problem, Trump told reporters he would build a wall. “People aren’t coming in unless they’re legally documented.”
He also took aim at NBC for severing its ties with him, saying the network was upset because he decided to quit his job as host of “Celebrity Apprentice” so he could run for president. “It’s been a big hit for them for 12 years and believe me they are very upset about it,” he said.