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MARION, Ia. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Iowa audiences this weekend that he would get Mexico to pay for building a wall on the southern border, jabbing at former President Donald Trump failing to keep his campaign promises.
“With me, everything I tell you I’m going to do, write it down,” DeSantis said Sunday at an event in a Cedar Rapids church. “I’m going to follow through.”
Actually, DeSantis’ border wall pitch would rely on immigrants living in the U.S., rather than the Mexican government. He proposed additional fees on the money immigrants send back to their communities in Mexico, Central America and South America — known as “remittances.”
“It’s billions of dollars you’ll raise, and we’re going to pile that right into building the border wall,” DeSantis said. “So not only am I going to keep my promises, I’m going to keep other people’s promises, too.”
The crowd, standing in a dense circle around DeSantis’ stage in the center of the room, laughed and applauded.
DeSantis has taken a hard-right stance on immigration on the campaign trail, pledging to use military force at the U.S.-Mexico border and to authorize lethal force against cartel members trying to enter the country.
A Des Moines Register analysis of the Republican presidential hopefuls found that candidates have escalated their rhetoric on the issue, tapping into Republican frustrations about the border.
At Sunday’s campaign stop, DeSantis also spoke extensively about the Hamas attack in Israel. He speculated that there’s a potential for terrorism in the United States — and he tied the idea directly to the southern border.
“When you’re watching what’s going on in Israel, just understand that what’s happened in this country with this open southern border has been an invitation for people and regimes and terrorists all over the world to infiltrate this country and eventually commit terrorist attacks,” DeSantis said.”… As much as I don’t like to say it, there will be a terrorist attack in this country from somebody that has come across the border.”
Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, made similarly dire predictions at Iowa events this weekend. At a Cedar Rapids rally on Saturday, Trump said he’s “the only one that will prevent World War III.”
The former president has also taken shots at DeSantis during recent Iowa visits, accusing him of flip-flopping on positions and mocking his position in the polls.
“He’s like a very injured, falling bird,” Trump said.
The Register’s Iowa Poll in August found Trump leading among potential Republican caucusgoers by more than 20 percentage points, remaining the faraway frontrunner even as he fights several ongoing court battles and faces resistance from wings of the party on issues like abortion.
Galen Bacharier contributed reporting.