MEXICO CITY, Feb 25 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday said he felt "almost obliged" to say sorry for verbal attacks on Mexico in the U.S. presidential campaign, in which Republican front-runner Donald Trump has labeled Mexican migrants rapists and drug runners.
Speaking alongside Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during a visit to Mexico City, Biden never mentioned Trump, who nonetheless loomed large over the proceedings.
"There's been a lot of damaging and incredibly inaccurate rhetoric, and I would argue, I feel almost obliged to apologize for some of what my political colleagues have said ... about Mexico, about the Mexican people," said Biden, a Democrat.
Property mogul Trump, who has built up a big early lead in the race to become Republican nominee, has vowed to make Mexico pay for a wall to seal off the United States from its southern neighbor, prompting widespread criticism in both countries.
"I just want you to know, Mr. President, that the most heated rhetoric you've heard from some of the competitors for the nomination for president, is not who we are as the American people .... It's the exact opposite," Biden added.
Without naming Trump, Pena Nieto also weighed in, saying "building walls is just isolating oneself."
The 2016 U.S. presidential election is on Nov. 8.
At an event earlier on Thursday, Biden had expressed concern about what the election race said about views held in the United States, calling some of the Republican campaign language "dangerous, damaging and incredibly ill-advised."
"The message that is coming out of the United States as a consequence of the presidential campaign, about American attitudes toward Mexicans and Mexico generally, (and) the entire hemisphere and our place in the world, is disturbing," he said.
Trump, 69, has vowed to deport the 11 million migrants living illegally in the United States, a position shared by his younger Republican rival, the Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
For more on the 2016 presidential race, see the Reuters blog, "Tales from the Trail" (http://blogs.reuters.com/talesfromthetrail/). (Reporting by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein; Editing by Richard Chang)