Elections

Geraldo Rivera says his friendship with Trump has its limits

Brandi Glanville, from left, Geraldo Rivera, Donald Trump and Kate Gosselin speak onstage during the "The Celebrity Apprentice" panel at the NBC 2015 Winter TCA on Jan. 16, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif.
Brandi Glanville, from left, Geraldo Rivera, Donald Trump and Kate Gosselin speak onstage during the "The Celebrity Apprentice" panel at the NBC 2015 Winter TCA on Jan. 16, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif. Invision/AP

First, several influential Republicans declared that they won’t vote for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Now a longtime friend is vowing not to cast a ballot for the Republican presidential nominee because of Trump’s “inhumane” comments and policy proposals aimed at Mexicans and other immigrant groups.

Fox News journalist Geraldo Rivera, who has known Trump for more than 40 years and was a contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” show on NBC, blasted the billionaire real estate mogul Friday during a luncheon hosted by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

“There is no amount of personal history, there is no amount of charisma that can sugarcoat that inhumanity,” Rivera said. “As I say whenever I am asked, there is no way on God’s green Earth that I can ever vote for anyone, even a friend, who promises to do something so inherently antithetical to the traditions that make America great. And, yes, America is already great.”

Rivera said he’d spoken with Trump after the businessman declared his candidacy in June 2015, an announcement in which Rivera said Trump had made a “crazy, out-of-nowhere comment slandering all undocumented Mexican immigrants as drug smugglers and rapists.”

He said Trump’s remarks were “so demonstrably inaccurate that I thought, having known him for 40 years, it was a slip of the tongue.”

There is no way on God’s green Earth that I can ever vote for anyone, even a friend, who promises to do something so inherently antithetical to the traditions that make America great. And, yes, America is already great.

Geraldo Rivera

Rivera said he’d offered to take Trump to a Mexican or Hispanic restaurant to see how hard immigrants worked, thinking that he would apologize for his remarks, but Trump declined the offer.

“He did not change his mind. He did not change his position on the undocumented,” said Rivera, who received an award from the journalists’ group Friday. “In fact, he doubled down. . . . He insisted he was going to build this great big wall along the southern border and the Mexicans were going to pay for it.”

Still, Rivera, whose father was Puerto Rican, said he’d thought it was an act and that once Trump got beyond the Iowa caucuses and appealed to conservatives like Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that he would pivot back and become “the reasonable, open-minded, inclusive New Yorker who I have known all of these years.”

It hasn’t happened yet, and Rivera wonders whether it ever will.

“There’s one thing I cannot get past. I can’t get past his pledge that, if elected, he’s going to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants, even if they have been living otherwise law-abiding lives, even if it’s at the cost of breaking up families with citizen children,” Rivera said. “He’s going to deport them all, and the citizen children.”

Donald Trump formally accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination on the last night of the RNC, promising to fight for Americans, restore security, improve trade deals, and ultimately 'Making America First Again.'

William Douglas: 202-383-6026, @williamgdouglas

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