Over the weekend, the white Lieutenant Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst challenged his opponent in the Texas Senate race, Ted Cruz, to a debate — in Spanish. Cruz, the Cuban-American former Texas Solicitor General, said he would prefer to debate in English.
Univision reported that Dewhurst made the challenge to Cruz. “I would welcome a debate with Lt. Gov. Dewhurst in any form,” Cruz told the Spanish-language network. “But I think we would have a better debate if we did the debate in English.”
He explained that as a second generation Cuban American, he grew up speaking “Spanglish.”
“My Spanish is a situation many of your viewers will recognize, which is that as a second generation immigrant, my dad came from Cuba when he was a teenager not speaking English. And I grew up here speaking Spanglish,” Cruz said, shouting out a phrase in half English, half Spanish to illustrate his point.
“That’s the world in which I grew up, and that’s a world in which a lot of second generation immigrants find themselves.”
Dewhurst and Cruz are locked in a Republican primary run-off battle for the Texas Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison at the end of the year. There is no viable Democratic candidate, and given the demographics of the state, whoever wins the primary run-off on July 31 will take the seat.
Texas has a huge Hispanic population, being a border state, and that demographic will be hugely important for both candidates.
Dewhurst is clearly making a play for that vote.
“I’m only asking who Ted Cruz is,” Dewhurst told Univision, speaking in poorly accented Spanish. He doesn’t have a proven record. We don’t know who he is.”
Contacted by The Daily Caller, Cruz campaign spokesman John Drogin did not comment on the Spanish-language debate challenge.
“This is the real story,” Drogin said, referring to an invitation Cruz accepted to participate in some debates held by local conservative activists. “Will Dewhurst show up to these debates? Any others? He says he’s willing … but we’ll see!”