NPR’s Cokie Roberts confronted Donald Trump on Wednesday over his calls to build a wall on the southern border of the US to keep immigrants from entering the country illegally — and their purported effect on children.
Trump is the clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. He won another three state contests on Tuesday and is in the lead among the four Republican candidates who remain in the race.
Roberts asked the mogul about reported incidents of white children taunting children of different races.
“There have been incidents of children, white children, pointing to their darker-skinned classmates and saying, ‘You’ll be deported when Donald Trump is president,'” Roberts, a senior news analyst for NPR, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“There have been incidents of white kids at basketball games holding up signs to teams which have Hispanic kids on them saying, ‘We’re going to build a wall to keep you out.’ Are you proud of that?” she added.
Trump said he hadn’t heard of these instances.
“I think your question is a very nasty question and I’m not proud of it because I didn’t even hear of it,” Trump responded. “And I certainly do not like it at all when I hear about it. You’re the first one that’s told me about that. But I would not be proud of that at all, and that’s not what the purpose of it is.”
In the case of the basketball game, Roberts was referring to a story about high-school students in Indiana who waved a picture of Trump and shouted “build a wall” at students from another school with a heavily Hispanic student body.
Roberts said the stories have been reported “in many newspapers.”
Trump ignored her and continued: “We want to make America great again. We want to bring back our industry. We want to bring back our jobs from China and Japan and, by the way, Mexico, which has taken so many of our jobs. And that’s what it’s about.”
Roberts subsequently talked over him.
“When you talk about deporting people and you talk about building a wall and you talk about banning Muslims, doesn’t that have an effect on children? Doesn’t that have an effect on the whole discourse?” she said.
“I talk about deporting people that are here illegally,” Trump responded. “We either have a country or we don’t.”
He then went on to say that he wants immigrants to come into the US legally, saying the wall he wants to build along the country’s southern border with Mexico will have a “big, beautiful door” in it.
Roberts then repeated her question about the effect on children.
“I think people are responding very positively, I think the messages are very positive,” Trump said. “You know, ‘make America great again is a very positive message.'”
Watch the full exchange below:
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