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In a race with nearly a dozen Republican competitors, newly minted presidential candidate Donald Trump has made an unlikely enemy: Mexico.

Trump, a 1968 Wharton graduate, drew substantial criticism this week after referring to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and saying he planned to build a wall between the United States and Mexico — on Mexico’s dime.

“They will pay for the wall, and the wall will go up. And Mexico will start behaving,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly last week. “Mexico is not our friend.”

Mexican officials blasted Trump for his comments.

“[Trump] surely doesn’t know the contributions made by migrants from practically every nation in the world, who have supported the development of the United States,” Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Mexican Interior Minister, told reporters last week, according to the Washington Post.

Chong added, “The remarks by Donald Trump seem prejudicial and absurd.”

Despite some calling his comments inflammatory, Trump has rocketed from averaging 4 percent of support among Republicans at the beginning of June to 11 percent, second only to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Trump still faces an uphill battle among most Republican voters. A May Qunnipiac University poll found that 52 percent of Republicans held an unfavorable opinion of him.

The first chance for Trump to directly challenge his Republican competitors will occur in an Aug. 6 Fox News debate. The debate, which is restricted to the top 10 candidates according to national polls, would include Trump if early polling remains steady.

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