It's not every day that a white candidate for the U.S. Senate demands to debate a Latino candidate in Spanish. But that's what has happened in Texas, where Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has issued such a challenge to rival Ted Cruz.
Debates were supposed to play to Cruz's strength in the runoff for the GOP Senate nomination. After all, Cruz was a winner at the 1992 U.S. National Debating Championships, which were in English. Recently, Cruz has been attacking Dewhurst for dodging one-on-one debates, but he was more circumspect when challenged to debate in Spanish.
"I would welcome a debate with Dewhurst in any form, but I think we would have a better debate if we did the debate in English," Cruz, who is a second-generation Cuban-American, said in an interview with Univision. "I grew up here speaking Spanglish."
Dewhurst picked up Spanish while living in Bolivia in the 1970s, while working for the Central Intelligence Agency.
"When I came back from Bolivia, my Spanish was in some ways as good as my English," Dewhurst told the Houston Chronicle. "I am rusty today. But I am comfortable talking in Spanish. I am not flawless or fluent, but I am comfortable. It takes me a day or two speaking a lot of Spanish to get back into a rhythm."
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
This article is part of our Next America: Communities project, which is supported by a grant from Emerson Collective.