- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 6, 2015

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump doubled down Thursday night on his claims that the Mexican government is sending criminals to the U.S., saying America’s “stupid” leaders are being duped.

“Our politicians are stupid,” Mr. Trump said during the first GOP presidential debate. “And the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning. And they send the bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them. Why should they, when the stupid leaders of the United States will pay for them?”

Mr. Trump drew much attention at his presidential announcement in June when he said Mexico was sending illegal immigrants to the U.S. including criminals and “rapists.” Fox News moderator Chris Wallace asked him for proof Thursday night.

“Border patrol people that I talk to, they say this is what’s happening,” Mr. Trump said. “I was at the border last week. We need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly.”

He turned to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has criticized Mr. Trump’s comments, and said, “We need, Jeb, to build a wall. We need to keep illegals out.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Mr. Trump “is hitting a nerve in this country.”

PHOTOS: Inside the first GOP debate of 2016 race

“For people who want to just tune him out, they’re making a mistake,” Mr. Kasich said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, said he too believes the U.S. needs to build a fence at the Mexican border, but it needs to strengthen other security systems as well.

“The majority of people coming across the border are not from Mexico,” Mr. Rubio said. “This is the most generous country in the world when it comes to immigration. [But] people feel like we’re being taken advantage of.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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