Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump detoured from the campaign trail on Wednesday to visit Mexico and meet with President Enrique Pena Nieto at his invitation, a surprise trip scheduled just hours before Trump delivers an immigration policy speech in Arizona.
Campaign sources confirmed that Trump landed in Mexico Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told Fox News the two would discuss illegal immigration, trade and drugs. Trump running mate Mike Pence also said they would begin a conversation about a proposed border wall, along with other issues.
“He’s going to begin a dialogue with Mexico on issues … that we differ on … but also, issues of common interest,” Pence told Fox News.
News of the surprise visit got a mixed reaction inside Mexico. Former President Vicente Fox told CNN that Trump is “not welcome” by the Mexican people, calling it a “political stunt.” Asked about the comments, Pence said he’s glad the “current president has a different attitude.”
“I think today is more about a relationship,” Pence said.
Trump also responded to Fox on Twitter.
Former President Vicente Fox, who is railing against my visit to Mexico today, also invited me when he apologized for using the “f bomb.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2016
The visit comes as Trump looks to clarify his stance on immigration, which is the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Trump has called for the deportation of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. and building a wall along the Mexican border, while having Mexico pay for it.
Recently, Trump has signaled he would soften his stance a bit after meetings with Hispanic leaders.
Conway said on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump wants to find “the fair and humane way” to address the issue, which includes whether to separate families to enforce federal law.
Last week, Mexican President Nieto — who has been critical of Trump’s insistence that Mexico would pay for the wall — invited both the Republican nominee and Democrat Hillary Clinton to visit his country. Trump confirmed on Twitter late Tuesday that he had accepted Nieto’s invitation.
Clinton, though, took a shot at Trump’s trip during an address earlier Wednesday to the American Legion convention in Cincinnati
“It certainly takes more than trying to make up for a year of insults and insinuations by dropping in on our neighbors for a few hours and then flying home again,” Clinton said. “That is not how it works.”
Clinton’s campaign also said in a statement that Trump’s trip to Mexico ultimately doesn’t matter in the long run.
“From the first days of his campaign, Donald Trump has painted Mexicans as ‘rapists’ and criminals and has promised to deport 16 million people, including children and U.S. citizens. He has said we should force Mexico to pay for his giant border wall. … What ultimately matters is what Donald Trump says to voters in Arizona, not Mexico, and whether he remains committed to the splitting up of families and deportation of millions.”
A senior campaign official told Fox News that Clinton will meet with Nieto at the “appropriate time.”
The Washington Post first reported the potential of a trip.
Trump is scheduled to speak on immigration Wednesday evening in Phoenix. He was already out West on Tuesday for a campaign stop near Seattle, giving him enough time to jet down to Mexico for a brief visit before the evening speech.
Foreign trips by presidential candidates, even to a neighboring country such as Mexico, are an enormous logistical and security undertaking.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a close Trump adviser, has been among those pushing Trump to make the trip, according to a person familiar with their conversations. Christie made his own successful trip to Mexico City in September 2014, and has a warm relationship with the Mexican president.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.