RYAN: So you know, President Nieto has compared you to Hitler and Mussolini.
TRUMP: Ah. OK.
TRUMP: Are those guys popular down there?
— Owen Ellickson (@onlxn) August 31, 2016
Epic fiction may be the only way to get a proper handle on the dumpster fire behind the fertilizer plant that is Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Gonna be a long day for political reporters, this Wednesday.
I have accepted the invitation of President Enrique Pena Nieto, of Mexico, and look very much forward to meeting him tomorrow.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2016
The Three Amigos going to Mexico together: Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Jeff Sessions, @JoshuaGreen reports.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) August 31, 2016
As of right now (pre-dawn), my best guess is that Trump’s handlers are using this last-minute visit as an excuse for Trump to put off/cancel his big Phoenix Immigration Pivot(tm) Speech, because he can’t do morning fundraisers in Los Angeles, jet down to Mexico City, meet with Presidente Nieto, and get to Phoenix in time for prime-time news coverage.
Josh Marshall has what seems like the most sensible take — “Can Trump Be This Stupid? Not A Trick Question”:
… It’s a general rule of politics not to enter into unpredictable situations or cede control of an event or happening to someone who wants to hurt you. President Nieto definitely does not want Donald Trump to become President. He probably assumes he won’t become president, simply by reading the polls. President Nieto is himself quite unpopular at the moment. But no one is more unpopular than Donald Trump. Trump is reviled. Toadying to Trump would be extremely bad politics; standing up to him, good politics…
Remember that the central force of Trump’s political brand is dominance politics. Trump commands, people obey. Trump strikes, victims suffer. It will be extremely difficult for him to manage anything like this in the Mexican capital. He comes with a weak hand, no leverage and the look of a loser. All Peña Nieto needs to say is no.
Again, when you’re in a campaign under constant scrutiny you do your best to control every situation, reduce the risk of unpredictable, embarrassing or damaging events. You try not to cede control to others. You especially try not to cede near total control to someone who has every interest in the world in harming you. The maximal version of that ‘big thing you’re not supposed to do’ is precisely what it looks like Trump is doing.