Trump is head­ing to Mex­ico be­fore his Ari­zona rally on Wed­nes­day.

The Daily Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By Robert Costa, Joshua Partlow and Karen DeYoung

Don­ald Trump is jet­ting to Mex­ico City on Wed­nes­day for a meet­ing with Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto, just hours be­fore he de­liv­ers a high­stakes speech in Ari­zona to clar­ify his views on im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple in the United States and Mex­ico fa­mil­iar with the dis­cus­sions.

Peña Ni­eto last Fri­day in­vited both Trump and Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton to visit Mex­ico, his of­fice said in a state­ment pro­vided to The Wash­ing­ton Post on Tues­day night.

Trump, sens­ing an op­por­tu­nity, de­cided over the week­end to ac­cept the in­vi­ta­tion and push for a visit this week, ac­cord­ing to the peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the dis­cus­sions.

Late Tues­day, Trump and the Mex­i­can pres­i­dent con­firmed that they will be meet­ing Wed­nes­day.

“I have ac­cepted the in­vi­ta­tion of Pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto, of Mex­ico, and look very much for­ward to meet­ing him to­mor­row,” Trump tweeted Tues­day night. Shortly af­ter, Peña Ni­eto’s of­fice tweeted that “El Señor” Don­ald Trump has ac­cepted the in­vi­ta­tion and will meet Wed­nes­day pri­vately with Peña Ni­eto.

The visit comes af­ter Trump has wa­vered for weeks on whether he will con­tinue to hold his hard­line po­si­tions on the cen­tral and in­cen­di­ary is­sue of his cam­paign, in par­tic­u­lar his call to de­port an es­ti­mated 11 mil­lion im­mi­grants who are liv­ing in the United States il­le­gally.

The peo­ple in­formed of Trump’s plans spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause of the sen­si­tiv­ity sur­round­ing the mat­ter. They said ear­lier Tues­day that talks be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Mex­i­can of­fi­cials were on­go­ing, with se­cu­rity con­cerns still be­ing sorted out.

Trump is sched­uled to hold fundrais­ers Wed­nes­day morn­ing in Cal­i­for­nia and de­liver his im­mi­gra­tion speech in the evening at the Phoenix Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. His trip to Mex­ico would come be­tween his events.

The in­vi­ta­tion is a stun­ning move by Peña Ni­eto, given the grief that Trump’s cam­paign has caused the Mex­i­can govern­ment over the past year. From call­ing Mex­i­can il­le­gal im­mi­grants rapists and crim­i­nals, to vow­ing to build a wall along the south­ern bor­der, to threat­en­ing to undo the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, Trump has caused grow­ing alarm in Mex­ico. Peña Ni­eto him­self likened Trump’s

rhetoric to that of Adolf Hitler and Ben­ito Mus­solini, in a March interview with a Mex­i­can news­pa­per.

To the de­light of his U.S. rally crowds, Trump has re­peat­edly promised to force Mex­ico to pay for his pro­posed bor­der wall. Peña Ni­eto and other Mex­i­can lead­ers have dis­missed the idea as pre­pos­ter­ous.

“There is no way that Mex­ico can pay (for) a wall like that,” Peña Ni­eto said in a July interview on CNN, ad­ding that he did not agree with Trump’s fre­quent char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Mex­ico as rapists and killers.

Trump’s newly in­stalled cam­paign chief ex­ec­u­tive, Stephen Ban­non, played a key role in de­vis­ing the po­ten­tial Wed­nes­day stop while Trump met Sun­day with his aides and fam­ily at Trump Na­tional Golf Club in Bed­min­ster, New Jer­sey, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple who have been briefed on the cam­paign’s de­lib­er­a­tions.

Ban­non, who pre­vi­ously headed the con­ser­va­tive web­site Bre­it­bart News, made the case to the group that Trump must un­der­score his pop­ulist im­mi­gra­tion views in the fi­nal weeks of the gen­eral­elec­tion cam­paign, per­haps with an au­da­cious ges­ture.

Peña Ni­eto’s in­vi­ta­tion was brought up, and Ban­non said it of­fered Trump an open­ing to make head­lines and show­case him­self as a states­man who could deal di­rectly with Mex­ico.

Trump was in­trigued by Ban­non’s pro­posal and agreed, but not all aides and al­lies were as en­thu­si­as­tic, the peo­ple said.

Trump, who ap­pointed Ban­non to his post and veteran poll­ster Kellyanne Con­way as cam­paign man­ager this month af­ter the res­ig­na­tion of cam­paign chair­man Paul Manafort, has been nav­i­gat­ing a flood of con­flict­ing ad­vice this sum­mer about where to land on im­mi­gra­tion as he has pub­licly wres­tled with him­self on the de­tails of his po­si­tion.

Fol­low­ing Sun­day’s strat­egy ses­sion, plans came to­gether quickly but not with­out hur­dles and some ten­sions.

Early this week, rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Trump con­tacted the U.S. Em­bassy in Mex­ico about his

in­ten­tions, ac­cord­ing to a per­son in Mex­ico fa­mil­iar with the com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween the two sides.

Trump’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives were told pri­vately by of­fi­cials that it would be lo­gis­ti­cally dif­fi­cult for Trump to visit. But the busi­ness­man’s prox­ies in­sisted that Trump would not de­lay his plans, the per­son said.

Over­seas vis­its by se­nior U.S. of­fi­cials nor­mally re­quire weeks of in­tri­cate plan­ning on both sides, as ev­ery move­ment and meet­ing is plot­ted. When more se­cu­rity is re­quired, such trips be­come even more com­pli­cated.

Se­cu­rity staffs trav­el­ing with the vis­i­tor are usu­ally beefed up. While Mex­ico is not con­sid­ered a hos­tile place, the crime level is high and Trump, should he ap­pear in pub­lic, would re­quire sig­nif­i­cant pro­tec­tion.

The in­vi­ta­tion — and par­tic­u­larly a visit — seems cer­tain to cause a back­lash in Mex­ico City, where Trump is widely dis­liked. Mex­i­cans have bashed Trump piñatas, burned him in ef­figy dur­ing pub­lic street par­ties and staged plays about him as a comic vil­lain.

When Trump de­clared his can­di­dacy in 2015, he was seen by many here as in­sult­ing but not to be taken very se­ri­ously. Mex­i­can diplo­mats back then scoffed at the no­tion that Trump was a se­ri­ous can­di­date or that the govern­ment was wor­ried about his as­cent.

IAN TERRY / THE HER­ALD

Pro­tester Jes­sica Or­daz, of Mon­roe, chants be­fore a rally for Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump in Everett on Tues­day.

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