Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) on Tuesday slammed fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who he said has been “disrespectful” toward Latinos with recent disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants.
“Yes, clearly, they’re disrespectful,” Pataki told Business Insider of Trump’s comments in a brief interview before the annual New York Republican Party’s gala.
Trump characterised Mexican immigrants in his campaign launch speech as “rapists” and drug runners when talking about how he’d focus as president on reducing illegal immigration.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best; they’re not sending you,” Trump said in his announcement speech. “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.”
The comments have produced a furious backlash: NBC severed business ties with him on Monday and Univision said last week that it would no longer carry Trump’s Miss USA pageant. At least one other candidate, US Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), defended Trump after the controversy.
Pataki told Business Insider that he understood the focus on securing the nation’s borders, but said Trump’s comments crossed far over the line.
“I mean, I’m as frustrated as anyone that we don’t enforce the laws and control our borders,” the former governor said. “But the vast majority of people who come here from Mexico want to build a better life for their future, for their family, for their kids. That’s what America’s always been about. We have to make sure it’s being done legally, but you don’t, don’t, don’t attack the character of those who are trying to build a better future.”
Pataki spoke to a crowd of Republicans who had gathered before the gala’s dinner, highlighting his record as governor and his electability, pointing to the fact that he had won election three times as a Republican governor in a reliably blue state.
Part of that success, he said, came from building a coalition of Latino voters. In 2002, it’s estimated that he won one-third or more of the Latino vote, something that worried state Democrats at the time.
“I got a plurality of the Latino vote — Dominicans and Puerto Ricans — who are not traditionally Republican voters in New York State,” Pataki told Business Insider.
“But I did it because I respect their work ethic, their communities, their integrity, their strong families and faith, and what they have brought to make our communities stronger and better and our state stronger and better. And I think it’s important that we stress that.”
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