NEW YORK (Reuters) - Candidate Donald Trump on Saturday satirized his imaginary presidency with a Washington Monument covered in gold mirrors and policy agenda made of magic in his turn as host of comedy show “Saturday Night Live.”
The Republican front runner steered clear of making fun of an immigration plan that has angered Latinos but the show’s writers did make sure he was called a “racist” during his opening monologue.
Actor Larry David stood to the side of the stage and yelled “racist” as Trump spoke, saying he heard he would make $5,000 for doing so — a reference to one group’s offer to anyone who yelled that at Trump during the live NBC show.
During a sketch depicting Trump’s cabinet two years into his term, Trump told his team “I don’t have to get specific” about policy.
“With me, it’s just magic,” he said, a reference to his campaign-trail promises that a Trump-led United States would be so great, Americans would “get tired of winning.”
Trump’s appearance made light of his campaign’s tendency to exaggerate and promise to improve the U.S. economy without offering details, as well as his history of denigrating perceived weaknesses.
His daughter, Ivanka Trump, appeared as his interior secretary, saying the Washington Monument was now covered in gold-mirrored glass, a mocking reference to Trump’s preference for opulence and suggesting that Washington, D.C., is not flashy enough for his taste.
Trump joked he was too tired to rehearse for one skit, and would instead live-tweet. Graphics of Trump’s comments then appeared on screen as he took aim at cast members for being low-class or losers, referencing the manner in which he has slammed rivals on the campaign trail.
Trump’s hosting gig, his second with the show, has been controversial since NBC announced it last month for giving the candidate the enviable exposure of one TV’s most popular and long-running shows.
The harshest criticism has come from Latino activists, who protested outside NBC’s (CMCSA.O) Manhattan studios on Saturday, saying the network was legitimizing the Republican presidential hopeful’s “racist” views on immigration.
The former star of NBC reality show, “The Apprentice” outraged many in June when he described Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug smugglers in announcing his candidacy. While making illegal immigration a main campaign theme, Trump has also said many of his employees are Hispanics and that they love him.
“Immigrants are not the enemy,” Karina Garcia, a volunteer with activist group The Answer Coalition who was draped with the Mexican flag, told chanting protesters.
The show made a passing reference to the protest during its weekly “Weekend Update” segment.
Hispanic-American groups and others say SNL’s producers gave Trump a platform to try to take the sting out of what they say are his hateful views.
An NBC representative has said SNL would not comment on the Trump controversy. A spokeswoman for the Republican candidate said the campaign was not commenting either.
An estimated 53 million Hispanics make up about 17 percent of the U.S. population and accounted for about 10 percent of the presidential vote in 2012.
The bloc has favored Democratic candidates in greater numbers in each election since 2004, and Republican officials have been trying to appeal to Latino voters. Party officials have told Trump his rhetoric is compromising their efforts.
Additional reporting by Erin McPike and Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Chris Michaud and William Hardy