One of Donald Trump's favorite routines to play with the people who attend his rallies is to ask them "Who's gonna pay for the wall" he wants to build along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
"Mexico!" the crowd shouts in response. We're all familiar with this by now.
So you might think that the subject would come up when Trump sat down to speak with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto earlier today in a meeting that was as hastily convened as it was surreal.
"Who pays for the wall? We didn't discuss," Trump said during a press conference following the meeting. "We did discuss the wall, we didn't discuss payment of the wall. This was a preliminary meeting, it was an excellent meeting."
Unfortunately for Trump, Peña Nieto contradicted him hours after the meeting, flatly stating that there had been a discussion about the wall, and that he'd told Trump that Mexico would not be paying for it.
Whatever the case, Trump's sudden reticence to be specific about his wall-payment plans is a pretty big departure for him. Let's just refresh our memories for a second. Here is Trump on one of the many, many occasions he orders Mexico to pay for the wall.
But when he was face to face with the Mexican president? It slipped his mind—according to him, at least.
Apart from that kerfuffle, the meeting between Trump and Peña Nieto—two politicians who are deeply unpopular in their respective countries—seems to have gone smoothly enough. Both men certainly played things relatively low-key. Peña Nieto never went directly after Trump as he has in the past, even taking a conciliatory tone when the subject of who would pay for the wall came up.
"There's been a poor misunderstanding or statements that hurt or had an impact on Mexicans and their perception of his candidacy," Peña Nieto said. "I respect that. Mexicans have felt offended by what has been said, but I think his genuine interest is in building a relationship that will benefit our mutual societies.
Prior to the meeting, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest compared Trump's meeting with Peña Nieto to a trip then-Sen. Barack Obama took in 2008 while running for president.
"One of the highlights was a trip to Germany, where the president spoke in Berlin to a crowd of about 100,000 Germans who warmly received him and enthusiastically cheered his speech," Earnest said. "We’ll see if Mr. Trump is similarly received."
Trump's lightning fast trip from the airport to the presidential mansion and then back all in one afternoon turned out to be quite different. Instead of thousands of people cheering, it was more like a few dozen people protesting.
Overall, Trump seemed pretty pleased with the meeting, at one point calling the Mexican president his "friend."
"I happen to have a tremendous feeling for Mexican Americans," Trump said, presumably hoping that people would forget the many, many, many terrible things he has said about Mexicans.