Mexicans watch final US presidential debate closely

MEXICO CITY (AP) " At a Mexico City barbecue restaurant that could have dropped out of Austin, Texas an assortment of Mexicans and expats toasted each time Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton said "Mexico" and guffawed when the Republican candidate promised once-again to deport the bad guys.

But among the 200 people gathered Wednesday night to watch the final U.S. presidential debate there was an awareness of how their neighbor to the north impacts their lives. There was fun in collective viewing " complete with bingo cards with things said by the candidates " and ribs and brisket were served from the side of a silver camper.

However, the campaign seems to have a real impact in Mexico where citizens have watched the peso swing in recent weeks with the polls and are flooded with news from the campaign trail.

"It's affecting us right now," said Alejandra Cardenas, a video director from Mexico City. "Our economy is clearly linked, that's why we're all here together."

That impact extends beyond Mexico though. Colombian postdoctoral student Natalia Guevara Jaramillo said she opposes Trump's stigmatization of immigrants.

"What happens in the United States directly affects the entire continent and a large part of the world," she said.

Trump's comments on immigration have been especially harsh.

He set the tone in declaring his candidacy last year when he talked about Mexico sending "rapists" to the U.S. His attacks of Mexico have only continued since, blaming the country for stealing jobs and filling the U.S. with heroin.

During a segment on immigration during Wednesday's debate, Trump explained again how he would halt illegal immigration by building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and deport those in the country illegally, including "bad hombres," or bad guys.

"I think the way that Trump has talked about Mexicans from the start of the campaign is to call them rapists, criminals, he hasn't changed," said Mexican Santiago Betancourt. "I don't think it's a presidential discourse and we saw it today in the debate; he's talking about the wall, he's talking about immigration and the only thing that occurs to him to say in that moment is that in the U.S. there are 'bad hombres' and that they have to get them out of the country."

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Associated Press video journalist Teresa DeMiguel contributed to this report.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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