NBC Today Hosts Praise The “Optics” Of Trump's Visit To Mexico

From the September 1 edition of NBC's Today:

Video file

MATT LAUER (CO-HOST): I want to talk about what Donald Trump said in his speech on immigration last night in a second, but I want to start with this meeting with Mexico's president. Afterward, there were conflicting reports of whether or not they talked about who in fact would pay for this wall on the border. Mr. Trump said it didn't come up. The president of Mexico said, yes, it came up early in the meeting and he told Mr. Trump that Mexico wouldn't pay. Both can't be right. Which one is trying to save face, in your opinion? 

TIM KAINE: Well, I think this is kind of a diplomatic amateur hour by Donald Trump. What are the odds, Matt, that he has been telling the American public for months now we're building a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it, but then that did not come up in the meeting? I mean, I just find that kind of ridiculous. And even if he's right, if it didn't come up, what, he suddenly just choked and forgot to say that to the president of Mexico after he's been saying it every day for the last many months? So I find his statement that he didn't bring up, even if it's true, it shows that he sort of folded under pressure and didn't have the backbone to say to the Mexican president what he's been saying over and over again. 

LAUER: You call it “diplomatic amateur hour,” but the optics of this in that press conference -- Donald Trump stood there with the Mexican president. He was toned down. No outrageous rhetoric. He seemed to be on his best -- even his best presidential behavior. Is that one of the difficult things for you, running against a Donald Trump, that you never know exactly which Donald Trump you're going to get? 

KAINE: I think the important thing about leadership is you got to be consistent. You can't say different things to different audiences. And so he came back across the border and then it's all about “Mexico is going to build the wall. Mexico is going to pay for it.” He was divisive. He basically says America is going to be deportation nation. But when he's looking the leader of Mexico in the eye, he can't bring himself to say it. That tells me something about his backbone and his resolve and so it's an interesting -- yesterday was an interested display of, I think, kind of a diplomatic lack of resolve, and then this language of division, deportation that shows that Donald Trump's not changing anything. 

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE (CO-HOST): Back to optics though for a second. I mean if you look at the side by side of this week, Donald Trump went to Mexico. He sat down. He had a dignified meeting with a foreign leader. Hillary Clinton has spent most of this week scooping up money in the Hamptons for fundraisers. Doesn't Trump come out on top on that? 

KAINE: I don't think so. Again, just do the contrast, the 24 hours of yesterday. Donald Trump choked on the fundamental promise that he's making in this campaign when he had the opportunity to talk to the foreign leader about it. By his words he didn't bring it up. By the leader's words, “Yeah, no, it did come up,and I told Trump we're not paying for your wall.” So that just shows that, I think, kind of not ready for primetime but then back over on this side of the border, he just doubles down on this divisive deportation nation strategy.


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