Donald Trump wants to clear the air on Mexican immigrants. Sort of.
In a three-page statement Monday, Trump barely softened a statement he made about Mexican immigrants last month that has cost him valuable business deals with NASCAR, Macy's, Univision, Serta, and NBC—and even more gravely, alarmed many party leaders within the GOP.
The statement, however, read less like an apology and more like the business executive was digging in. Trump's conclusion? He didn't misspeak during his announcement speech. It's all still the Mexican government's fault.
"I have great respect for Mexico and love their people and their people's great spirit," Trump wrote. "The problem is, however, that their leaders are far smarter, more cunning, and better negotiators than ours."
In recent weeks, Trump has become a ticking time bomb for a Republican Party that has sought to broaden its appeal and distance itself from ultra-conservative positions on immigration and other social issues ahead of the 2016 presidential race. There has been growing concern among establishment leaders and strategists that Trump—who has high name recognition and is polling well—could spoil early debates by forcing candidates to tact to the right. Candidates from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to Sen. Marco Rubio have blasted Trump's remarks. Even former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who once said on the campaign trail that illegal immigrants should deport themselves, criticized Trump.
But Trump's statement isn't expected to quell Republican concerns. Trump said that not only is the Mexican government sending "people that have lots of problems," as a result of the drug and migrant trade, to America, but that the U.S.'s Southern border is being infiltrated with "infectious disease."
"The Mexican government wants an open border as long as it's a ONE-WAY open border into the United States. Not only are they killing us at the border, but they are killing us on trade ... and the country of Mexico is making billions of dollars in doing so," Trump wrote.
Trump argues that the reason Univision backed away from carrying his beauty pageant is that the network is aligned with the Mexican government.
"I have pointed this out during my speeches and it is something Mexico doesn't want me to say. In actuality, it was only after my significant rise in the polls that Univision, previously my friend, went ballistic," Trump wrote.
He added that "Univision is the one who began this charade in the first place, and they are owned by one of Hillary Clinton's biggest backers," Trump said in reference to Haim Saban, who recently gave Clinton's super PAC $2 million.
In the end, Trump isn't looking to clear his name as much as he wants to prove he's not backing down anytime soon.
"If there was something stated incorrectly, it would have been brought up immediately and with great enthusiasm. The issues I have addressed, and continue to address, are vital steps to make America great again!" Trump wrote. "Additionally, I would be the best jobs president that God ever created. Let's get to work!"
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.