By now, we've all gotten used to the "Make America Great Again!" hats that Donald Trump and his supporters are often seen in. But team Trump unveiled a new twist on an old favorite Wednesday, and it's... unconvincing. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, two prominent Trump backers, were both seen wearing "Make Mexico Great Again Also" hats at a Trump rally in Arizona Wednesday. This is probably part of Trump's so-called "immigration pivot," but let's be entirely clear: Those hats aren't fooling anybody. It's pretty difficult to believe that Trump, Giuliani, or Sessions cares about making Mexico great.
Trump's presidential run has centered largely on his promise to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants (or "rapists," as he called them in his presidential kickoff speech). He's made this pledge again and again, and chants of "build that wall!" were frequent and loud at the Republican National Convention in July.
Never mind that net migration from Mexico to the U.S. was negative between 2009 and 2014, or that native-born Americans can benefit substantially from increased immigration to America, according to some studies. And never mind that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto told Trump on Wednesday that, contra Trump's claims, Mexico won't be paying for a border wall. Despite all of this, Trump reiterated later in the same day that he still intends to build that wall if he becomes president.
But while flippantly referring to Mexican immigrants as "rapists" was a good way to win over the hearts of Republican primary voters, it's turned out to be a rather poor general election strategy: Trump now has absolutely horrid favorability ratings with Hispanic voters, an absolutely crucial voting bloc for any Republican who hopes to win the White House.
As such, he's recently attempted to "soften" his tone on immigration. For example, his new campaign manager recently denied that Trump would set up a "deportation force," even though Trump literally used that exact phrase in November to describe what he'd do in office. Some Trump surrogates even started backing down on the whole border wall idea, with Rick Perry telling Good Morning America that actually, Trump is going to build a "digital wall," whatever that means (Trump later made clear that no, he does indeed intend to build a physical wall).
These "Make Mexico Great Again Also" hats are likely a part of this same overall effort. The idea is to communicate to voters that Trump doesn't really hate Mexico, and only wants the best for America's southern neighbor. That sentiment is contradicted, however, by the many times Trump has indicated that he feels the exact opposite. For example...
There are many, many more. You can interpret those tweets however you want, of course, but when a candidate says repeatedly and explicitly that a country isn't a friend of the U.S., it's a bit hard to take them seriously when they start trotting out "Make Mexico Great Again Also" hats. If this is representative of how Trump plans to clean up his image for the general election, he's in for a rough ride.