Just when it seemed like the negative image of Donald Trump as a xenophobic, racist, and cartoonish excuse for a presidential candidate was permanently stained into most of the voters' minds, someone on his campaign staff had the brilliant idea to accept the invitation to meet Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City.
And now that the meeting is over, and both Trump and Nieto have made their formal statements, it's clear Trump has been given a crucial presidential-looking shot in the arm from perhaps the one foreign leader we least expected to give it to him. But that's not where the positives for Trump end, not by a long shot.
Suddenly, we now have a new context for Trump's long-awaited speech on immigration. Before the meeting, Trump was facing a tough challenge. Several conservatives, and even one of his most ardent supporters in Ann Coulter, had been getting much attention as they accused Trump of flip-flopping on illegal immigration and especially the deportation question. There are reports the Trump campaign is hoping to gloss over deportation at least somewhat by focusing on securing the southern border with Mexico instead. That seems like it might be a tough needle to thread. But now that Trump is making the speech coming directly from that border, that new focus suddenly becomes more plausible.
The buzz is now about the Mexico meeting and fewer people are talking about deportation. And since President Peña Nieto himself made border security part of his own set of priorities in his portion of the news conference, this entire event is amounting to something of a home run for Trump and his quest for legitimacy.