Trump Vs. Ramos: Match Made in Hell

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Fireworks erupted at Donald Trump’s Iowa campaign event Tuesday, as they so often do when Trump gets in front of reporters. This exchange was particularly contentious, pitting Trump against Univision’s top star, Jorge Ramos. Ramos – an advocacy journalist who has never bothered to hide his full-fledged support for looser U.S. immigration policies – stood up at the event to ask Trump about some of his comments on illegal immigration. Trump wasn’t having it.

“Go back to Univision,” said the controversial billionaire, standing by as security officers led Ramos out of the press room. Trump relented only moments later, allowing Ramos to come back in and ask his questions.

Questions? Well, that might be putting a spin on it. What Ramos actually did was stand up and rant against Trump, pausing only occasionally to let the presidential candidate speak. He accused Trump of developing an immigration plan “full of empty promises,” telling him that he would not be able to revoke birthright citizenship and wondering how he could possibly intend to “build a 1,900 mile wall.”

“Very easy,” Trump said in his inimitable Trump fashion. “I’m a builder.”

As a room full of reporters tried to get Trump’s attention, Ramos continued to hijack the event, confronting the Republican frontrunner over his use of terms that some find offensive. “No human being is illegal,” he said.

“Well, when they cross the border from a legal standpoint, they’re an illegal immigrant when they don’t have their papers,” Trump replied. He then turned the tables on Ramos, asking the star reporter if he was aware of the $500 million lawsuit he had filed against Univision. He did not come right out and say the lawsuit explained why the network’s figurehead was attacking him, but the insinuation was obvious.

A Dangerous Enemy

When it comes to starting feuds, Trump has an insatiable appetite. John McCain, Megyn Kelly, Rosie O’Donnell, and others have fallen afoul of his pointed attacks. At every turn, these word-wars seem to benefit his candidacy, pushing him further and further up the polls. But with Ramos, Trump may want to consider a different tactic. Univision has an outsized influence on American Hispanics, and Ramos has been the network’s main guy since 1986. When he talks, viewers listen.

Obviously, Trump and Ramos are never going to see eye to eye on the subject of illegal immigration. But Trump has to be careful if he wants to win more than 20% of the Hispanic vote. You can engage this issue without sending every last Latino voter over to Hillary. Just as the war on terror doesn’t need to mean a war on Islam, a war on illegal immigration doesn’t need to mean a war on Hispanics.

At the same time, there’s no cause to pander, and Ramos was clearly out of line. Trump handled the situation appropriately, especially within the context of his campaign. His supporters love this stuff. It’s exciting to have a presidential candidate with such low tolerance for BS. Hispanics don’t vote single-issue any more than women, blacks, or any other demographic. And there are plenty of Hispanic citizens who want our immigration laws to be enforced. By standing toe to toe with Ramos and other immigration activists, Trump can reach those Hispanics and prove that you can defend law and order without being racist.