In Context: 'Senator, you've whipped out that Mexican thing again'
After Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine pressed his Republican counterpart to defend Donald Trump’s references to Mexicans and Mexico, Mike Pence replied: "Senator, you’ve whipped out that Mexican thing again."
We don't think Pence was making a joke at that moment in Tuesday's vice presidential debate. Rather, the Indiana governor was reacting to the Virginia senator pressing him to defend Trump statements about Mexicans.
By our read, Kaine raised Trump comments about Mexico or Mexicans four different times.
In this story, we’re putting Pence’s riposte in context by walking through Kaine’s references to Mexicans by drawing on the debate transcript posted by The Washington Post, we’ll bold Kaine’s "Mexican" references in this recap.
At the top of the debate, Kaine was asked by moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News to say why most voters indicate they don’t trust Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Part of Kaine’s reply:
"Donald Trump always puts himself first. He built a business career, in the words of one of his own campaign staffers, ‘off the backs of the little guy.’ And as a candidate, he started his campaign with a speech where he called Mexicans rapists and criminals, and he has pursued the discredited and really outrageous lie that President Obama wasn't born in the United States."
Announcing his candidacy in June 2015, Trump said immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without legal permission include rapists and criminals. Trump also has vowed to build a border-length wall between the nations.
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best," Trump said. "They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
Trump’s statements about Mexican immigrants have been discredited in fact checks. PolitiFact National twice gave Pants on Fire ratings to Trump’s claim that the Mexican government is sending violent criminals to the U.S.
Trump hasn’t provided proof for his repeated claims and immigration experts say there’s no evidence to support them in that unauthorized Latino immigrants usually come to the U.S. looking for jobs and to reunite with families already here.
On the other hand, PolitiFact Virginia in August rated False a Kaine claim that Trump had said "all Mexicans are rapists." Kaine didn’t provide factual backup proving out the claim. Trump’s comments had been limited to unauthorized immigrants crossing the border.
Next in the debate, Kaine joined back and forth about police officers possibly showing racial bias by saying:
"And I just want to talk about the tone that's set from the top. Donald Trump during his campaign has called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He's called women slobs, pigs, dogs, disgusting. I don't like saying that in front of my wife and my mother. He attacked an Indiana-born federal judge and said he was unqualified to hear a federal lawsuit because his parents were Mexican."
This summer, as recapped by PolitiFact Wisconsin, Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel may be biased against him because of his Mexican heritage. The judge has been presiding over a pair of cases in which the plaintiffs allege Trump University duped them into paying tens of thousands of dollars on the belief they would be trained to learn Trump’s real estate strategies. Trump denies the allegations, saying the students got their money’s worth, with many offering positive evaluations of the program.
Curiel, who was appointed to the federal bench in San Diego by President Barack Obama, was born and raised in Indiana. His parents were naturalized U.S. citizens from Mexico.
On June 2, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that Curiel had "an absolute conflict" in presiding over the litigation given that he is "of Mexican heritage" and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Trump told the journal the judge’s background was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. "I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest," Trump said.
In the vice presidential debate, Kaine revisited immigrants from Mexico by saying Trump had said at a Phoenix rally that upon construction of his proposed border wall that the U.S. would be "deporting everybody. He said, quote, "They will all be gone." "They will all be gone." And this is one of these ones where you can just go to the tape on it and see what Donald Trump has said.
PolitiFact in Washington went to the tape, finding this Kaine debate statement Half True. Trump has not always been consistent about his deportation plans. But in Phoenix, he didn’t say of the entire undocumented immigrant population, "they will all be gone." He used that kind of language to describe his plans for immigrants who had committed crimes, saying they would be the first to go.
At the same rally, then again, Trump said that people here illegally today and who want to be legalized "have one route and one route only, to return home and apply for reentry like everybody else." Trump’s language in the Phoenix speech for the non-criminal pool of undocumented immigrants was more tamped-down than Kaine presented in the debate.
In Tuesday’s debate, after Pence said Trump was talking about deporting "criminal aliens," Kaine replied:
"And to add to it, and to add to it, and to add to it, we are a nation of immigrants. Mike Pence and I both are descended from immigrant families. Some things, you know, maybe weren't said so great about the Irish when they came, but we've done well by absorbing immigrants, and it's made our nation stronger.
"When Donald Trump says Mexicans are rapists and criminals, Mexican immigrants, when Donald Trump says about your judge, a Hoosier judge, he said that Judge Curiel was unqualified to hear a case because his parents were Mexican, I can't imagine how you could defend that."
Next in the debate, Kaine said during a back and forth regarding homegrown terrorists: "We have different views on -- on refugee issues and on immigration. Hillary and I want to do enforcement based on, are people dangerous? These guys say all Mexicans are bad."
Pence replied: "That’s absolutely false."
Finally, in talk about abortion, Kaine said: "When Donald Trump says women should be punished or Mexicans are rapists and criminals…"
That comment led to the exchanges below including Pence’s "whipped out" statement:
PENCE: "I'm telling you…"
KAINE: "... or John McCain is not a hero, he is showing you who he is."
PENCE: "Senator, you've whipped out that Mexican thing again. He -- look…"
KAINE: "Can you defend it?"
PENCE: "There are criminal aliens in this country, Tim, who have come into this country illegally who are perpetrating violence and taking American lives."
KAINE: "You want to -- you want to use a big broad brush against Mexicans on that?"
PENCE: "He also said and many of them are good people. You keep leaving that out of your quote. And if you want me to go there, I'll go there."
In the debate, neither Pence nor Kaine spoke again about Mexicans.