JOHN HEILEMANN (HOST): Let’s just say this first of all, when Trump does what he did in that Tapper interview, and he did it over and over again, he kept calling Curiel a Mexican, right? It is not even dog whistle politics. It is just pure racial politics. 

MARK HALPERIN (HOST): No, it’s not racial.

HEILEMANN: It’s racial politics. It is.

HALPERIN: Mexico isn’t a race.

HEILEMANN: It doesn’t matter whether Mexico is a race, it’s stirring up racial animus about people who don’t like Hispanics, and illegal immigrants coming across the border. That’s what he’s doing. He’s ringing the bell for them every time he does it. He’s not Mexican. He was born in Indiana. And eventually you can get Trump to acknowledge that he’s Mexican-American, it’s his heritage that’s what he’s doing here right? Then on top of that he is a potential president of the United States who has issued, over the course of the last week, vague threats, saying that the judge should be investigated. It is wildly inappropriate and yes, of course there are no political benefits to this and I’m sure that his team is beating it’s head against tables as they watch him blow news cycles behaving in this way that is again, I think racially tinged and also really wildly inappropriate things to say about a federal judge by someone who could be president of the United States.

HALPERIN: It’s certainly racially tinged. I just want to make the point that Mexico is not – Mexican is not a race. 

HEILEMANN:  I am fully aware that Mexico is not a race, but you can invoke things like that to stir up racial animus regardless of whether or not Mexico is a race or not. 


Hey, Mark Halperin of Bloomberg News.

“Hi, thanks for having me.”

You ever turn down an interview?

“Not yet.”

Great. So: wanna clarify?

“Mexican is not a race.”


“Mexican Gran Prix is a race.”

An exciting one.

“Not Mexican.”

I don’t understand the hair-splitting here.

“People are calling Trump racist, but Mexican is not a race. If he had said the judge was Hispanic, then that would be a racial comment.”

Mark, I think you’re not seeing the forest for the Mexicans on this one.

“Mexico is a country, not a race.”

What about Japan?

“Yeah, that might be a race. I don’t know; I would need to measure their skulls.”

Focus, Mark. What I’m hearing you say is that when Trump says Mexicans are rapists and against him and unfit to adjudicate his many, many serious legal matters, that it’s not racist because he didn’t say some sort of magic word?

“Mexico isn’t a race.”

The Fourth Estate lives.

“The what?”

Good talk, Mark.