By Amy Tennery
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Republican Mike Pence's "Mexican thing" comment during a contentious vice presidential debate, a reference to controversial remarks by running mate Donald Trump, triggered fresh criticism on social media.
At Tuesday night's televised debate, Democratic opponent Tim Kaine recalled Trump's June 2015 presidential campaign launch, at which the New York businessman accused Mexico of sending criminals to live in the United States, angering Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.
Pence, Indiana's governor, responded to Kaine's verbal attack by Hillary Clinton's running mate by telling U.S. senator, "You whipped out that Mexican thing again."
The remark provoked fresh ire among Twitter users as Trump's standing among Latino voters lagged behind that of Clinton in many opinion polls, with the Nov. 8 election fast approaching.
"#ThatMexicanThing my dad working as a cook & in landscaping to provide for his family," tweeted Mario Peregrino (@mario_peregrino). "Mom took care of other people's kids to feed her own."
Rick Miller (@itsrickmiller) tweeted, "Thank you Mike Pence for reducing Trump's repeated trashing of Mexicans to 'that Mexican thing.' Your words say a lot about you as well."
A Trump campaign spokeswoman did not respond to an email request for comment.
Pence's remark was the latest in a series of Trump statements or policy proposals that have not endeared the presidential candidate to Latinos.
Trump initially said he would seek to deport millions of undocumented immigrants. He has since said he would prioritize deporting people in the country illegally who have committed crimes and those who have arrived recently or overstayed visas.
Trump, an avid Twitter user, apparently tried to curry favor with Hispanic voters last spring in a move that, by many accounts, backfired. He marked Mexico's Cinco de Mayo holiday on May 5 by tweeting a picture of himself eating a taco bowl in his Trump Tower office and writing, "I love Hispanics!"
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)