Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador offered high praise for Vice President Kamala Harris following their meeting last week to discuss the ongoing migrant crisis at his country’s shared border with the United States, even saying that he referred to her as “president” because the meeting went so well.
But the viewpoint of AMLO, as he known in his country, was far different from those held by U.S. officials and a usually friendly American media, all of whom panned Harris’ first foreign trip as a diplomatic disaster, the latter perspective apparently even shared by some in the White House, according to reports.
“It’s a completely new phase,” López Obrador told reporters following his meeting last week with Harris, Reuters reported. “It was such a good meeting that I called her ‘president.’”
Asked about his reference to Harris as the leader of the free world later, AMLO backtracked.
“It was a very good meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris. It was so good that I called her ‘president,’ I got it wrong, … I’m not infallible,” he said.
In addition, the Mexican leader used the wrong term, Presidente, which is the masculine pronunciation. Also, he did not formally welcome the VP to his country, saying “Mucho Gusto,” which translates to, “Nice to meet you.” He also got her name wrong — Kabala — did not address her by her first name and surname, Mexico News Daily reported.
Harris traveled to Guatemala and Mexico last week on a two-day trip to address what she and other Biden administration officials have described as the “root causes” they say have created the migrant crisis, including violence, poverty, and climate change, though Republicans have blamed it on President Joe Biden’s immediate reversal of nearly all of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies upon taking office.
In addition to the Mexican president, Harris described her trip in a positive light, claiming she was “successful in making progress” regarding the issue. Harris also touted a $132 million ‘investment’ by the U.S. in worker protection and “labor reform” in Mexico, as well as addressing related issues in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
But when asked if she and the Mexican president discussed his country taking back illegal immigrants turned away from the U.S. due to Title 42 health protections, Harris responded, “We didn’t discuss Title 42.”
What’s more, Harris’ vision — and that of AMLO — of her first foreign trip varied widely from views by the U.S. media and some White House officials.
During a panel discussion on CNN Sunday, host Abby Phillips described Harris’ performance as, at times, “cringeworthy.”
“Vice President Harris has been given a to-do list loaded with all but impossible tasks,” said Phillips as she introduced a segment. “Immigration tops that list and was the focus of her first foreign trip. But she drew criticism for telling migrants, do not come to the U.S. border, and for not yet visiting the actual U.S.-Mexico border.”
Phillips went on to play a clip of Harris during an interview last week with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, who noted at one point, “You haven’t been to the border,” prompting the VP to respond with her characteristically uncomfortable laugh, “And I haven’t been to Europe. I don’t understand the point that you’re making.”
The host followed that up with an exchange between Harris and Univision’s Ilia Calderón, who also pressed the VP about when she would make a border visit.
“I’ve said I’m going to the border. And I…” Harris said.
“When are you going to the border, vice president?” a stoic Calderón interrupted.
“I’m not finished,” Harris lectured, laughing again and even raising her finger at the host.
“It’s just a little cringeworthy, and I know that her allies in the White House and elsewhere are watching it and just kind of wondering what is going on? How poorly did this go for her in her first foray on the world stage?” Phillips said, bringing in Politico’s White House correspondent Laura Barrón-López.
“It didn’t go the way the White House wanted it to go. Again, immigration, as you mention, is a hot potato no one wants to touch, and Harris has been dealt it, and so she has to handle now what Biden had to handle when he was VP which is relationships with the northern triangle,” said Barrón-López. “And, of course, Republicans have been trying to clump that in with the border and the border situation and attacking her on that. Now, did the trip go the way they wanted? No.”
(Video: Fox News)
On Friday’s “The Five” on Fox News, co-host Kayleigh McEnany noted several media headlines that were uncharacteristically critical of Harris as she brought on Clay Travis of Outkick.com and co-host Tomi Lahren to respond.
“She should have been prepped to finally answer” why she hasn’t been to the border yet, Travis began. “Maybe she wasn’t expecting it when Lester Holt caught her unaware and she made that ridiculous comment about not having been to Europe before.
“But when you have made that error, you should expect to get quizzed on it and have a perfect response at your ready,” Travis continued. “I think that’s why you’re seeing the administration officials leaking, because I’m sure they prepped her and she failed again.”
Travis added that Harris and Biden won’t visit the border “because there isn’t a good answer” on how to fix the problems.
Lahren jumped in, noting that when Harris “says she wants to address the ‘root causes’…if you wanna address the problem, it’s sitting right in front of us,” going on to single out the administration and “Democrats as a whole.”
“We know why people are coming,” she continued, citing Biden and Harris during the 2020 campaign in which they said that their administration would not turn migrants away.
“People are coming across the border with Biden shirts on,” she added. “We know exactly what the root causes are.”
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