After days of outrage, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Monday that some of his criticism of Mexico has been distorted but stuck to his stance that many illegal immigrants coming across the Mexican border are criminals.
A new statement from the billionaire real estate developer came as his empire took a fresh blow. Sports broadcaster ESPN announced it would move the upcoming ESPY Celebrity Golf Classic from Trump National Golf Club to Pelican Hill Golf Club in the Los Angeles area.
Since his June 16 announcement speech of his candidacy, in which he vented about illegal immigrants, Trump has seen a steady flow of business away from him. Univision declared it would not broadcast the Miss USA pageant, and NBC, Macy's, Serta and NASCAR cut ties with him.
In addition, the four major pro U.S. golf organizations, PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, USGA and PGA of America issued a joint statement last week saying Trump's views were inconsistent with their goal of an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.
"I have lost a lot during this presidential run defending the people of the United States," Trump said. "I have always heard that it is very hard for a successful person to run for president."
Trump said in his statement that some in the news media had begun to "totally distort" what he had said over the past week, and that "many fabulous people come in from Mexico and our country is better for it."
However, he said, the United States has become "a dumping ground for Mexico" with illegal border-crossers smuggling illicit drugs and carrying "tremendous infectious disease."
Trump said the recent killing of a woman in San Francisco by a illegal immigrant from Mexico with a criminal record proves him right.
"This is merely one of thousands of similar incidents throughout the United States. In other words, the worst elements in Mexico are being pushed into the United States by the Mexican government," he said.
Trump has increasingly come under fire from some of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.
"Everybody has a belief that we should control our borders," candidate Jeb Bush said on Saturday. "But to make these extraordinarily kind of ugly comments is not reflective of the Republican Party. Trump is wrong on this."
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Tom Brown)