Steinhauser: Pataki tells NH1 News people holding positions like Trump on Mexicans 'should not be president'
MANCHESTER – George Pataki says he’s “furious” about Donald Trump’s controversial comments regarding Mexicans immigrants and that he wants to debate his rival for the Republican presidential nomination “mano a mano.”
The former three-term New York governor slammed Trump during a reporter roundtable at the candidate’s New Hampshire headquarters Monday afternoon, while he presented his own proposal to deal with border security and the ten to twelve million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.
“I was furious about Donald Trump’s comments. Inappropriate is too weak a word. Unfairly and wrongly denigrated an entire class of people,” Pataki said, describing Trump’s recent comments that many Mexican immigrants coming into the U.S. are killers, rapists and drug dealers.
And Pataki challenged Trump to face-off over illegal immigration, saying “I would be delighted to have a debate with Donald trump on this issue. Donald, let me tell you right now, I am willing to debate you here in New Hampshire, mano a mano, anytime on the issue of immigration, pit your ideas against my solutions. I hope you say yes.”
Asked by NH1 News if Trump’s language should disqualify him for running for the White House, Pataki said “those are all personal decisions but in my mind, a person holding these positions should not be president”
The real estate mogul and reality TV star made the comments in his June 17 GOP presidential campaign launch in New York City. That evening at a rally in Manchester, Trump repeated the controversial language, saying “I have so many friends that are Mexicans. But the people who are coming into our country are in many cases brutal. You’ve the drugs guys, you’ve got rapists, you’ve got killers.”
Since then Trump’s repeatedly stood by his language. On Monday he released a statement saying that “the Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”
“The last thing Mexico wants is Donald Trump as President,” he added.
Pataki takes lead against Trump
Pataki, a longshot for the GOP nomination, has taken the lead in repudiating Trump’s comments. Last week he grabbed headlines by sending a letter to 14 fellow Republican presidential candidates, urging them to “denounce” Trump’s language regarding Mexicans.
NH1 News reached out to the Trump campaign for a response to the latest salvo from Pataki, but the Trump campaign said they would not be responding.
Last week Trump took to Twitter to blast Pataki, saying he "was a terrible governor of New York, one of the worst," and that "he couldn't be elected dog catcher if he ran again."
Pataki responded on Twitter, saying "Facts Matter: "Trump donated $43,500 to [Pataki’s] gubernatorial campaigns."
Asked Monday by NH1 News if there’s some bad blood between himself and Trump, Pataki said “not at all, not at all, he supported me when I was governor.”
“But I do worry when one of the leading people in the polls in my party’s presidential position takes a position that is so completely abhorrent to what I believe. And I also understand that if you are going to lead this country and win the election, you have to appeal to more than just Republicans.”
Trump ranked second, trailing Jeb Bush, in the most recent poll of likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters, and he also was in second behind Bush in one of the most recent national polls.
Asked by longtime Granite State political reporter John DiStaso if Trump’s comments are hitting a cord with some people, Pataki said “yes I think he has tapped into a cord of people who do not want to see millions of people come here illegally, but that does not justify demonizing an entire group of people.”
Pataki spelled out his ideas on tackling the issue of immigration reform, saying “first we do have to secure our borders.”
He went on to say that “we’re not going to send 10, 11, 12 million people on buses, or trains or cars somewhere other than the United States,” adding that “for those who have come here illegally, been here a number of years, I would require them to come forward, if they want to have the possibility of having legal status here. They would have to come forward, acknowledge they have broken the law, commit that they will not do it again, and then pay a sanction for having broken that law.”
Pataki added that “what I would do is require 200 hours of approved community service,” before bestowing legal residency on undocumented immigrants.
Pataki said he hopes the media spotlight on Trump’s comments will lead to a real debate over how fix the nation’s illegal immigration problems.
"We have to have an intelligent policy debate. It's not about a soundbite. It's not about denigrating people," said Pataki. "There's no such thing as a perfect solution. But after years and years of ignoring this and talking in political soundbites it’s time for pragmatic solutions that work."
Last week the Macy’s department store chain severed ties with Trump line of menswear. The mattress giant Serta also said it will stop selling Trump-branded products. NASCAR also said it was severing ties. And Univision and NBC cancelled plans to air Trump’s Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. In response Trump sued Univision for $500 million and threatened legal action against NBC.
Monday he took to Twitter to thank his supporters for what he said was their cutting up of their Macy’s credit cards “ as a protest against illegal immigrants pouring into US.”
And in his statement Monday afternoon Trump said “Macy’s, NBC, Serta and NASCAR have all taken the very week and sad position of being politically correct even though they are wrong in terms of what is good for our country.”