Donald Trump offered an awkward joke on Thursday about a plane that flew overhead at one of his rallies.
“In fact, that could be a Mexican plane up there. They’re getting ready to attack,” the presumptive Republican nominee said while speaking in Manchester, N.H.
Trump made the comment while, in a familiar refrain, accusing the Mexican government of getting the better of the U.S. through a shrewd approach to trade policy and manufacturing.
“I respect Mexico. I respect their leaders. What they’ve done to us is incredible. Their leaders are so much smarter, so much sharper. And it’s incredible,” he said moments before the plane joke.
Throughout his campaign, Trump has made a number of provocative statements about Mexico. He launched his White House bid last year in a speech that accused the Mexican government of sending “rapists” across the border. Additionally, one of his signature campaign planks is a vow to build a massive wall along the U.S. border with Mexico — and make the Mexican government pay for it.
Trump’s Thursday joke about the plane was perhaps reminiscent of former President Ronald Reagan’s infamous 1984 quip about bombing Russia. While running for reelection, Reagan tested a mic by saying: “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”