South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg became the first Democratic candidate to answer a question in Spanish, twelve minutes in to the second Democratic debate.
Bilinguality was a major feature of the first debate, with the candidates answering questions in Spanish eight times. The move comes as Democrats try to shore up its base following an underwhelming turnout in 2016. (RELATED: Julian Castro Makes Closing Statements In Spanish To Show ‘The Progress That We Have Made’ In America)
While asking a question about tuition-free college, the moderator addressed Buttigieg with the words: “buenos noches,” which is Spanish for good night. Buttigieg responded in Spanish before proceeding to answer the question.
However, pre-debate polling has shown that many Americans believe that Democrats were “pandering” by speaking in Spanish. A poll published by Yougov earlier this week showed that 42% of Americans viewed speaking Spanish as “pandering.”
The same poll showed that 37% of Hispanic adults viewed answering questions in Spanish as respectful, while 27% viewed it as pandering. YouGov polled 1,258 US adults, who were surveyed online between June 21-24. (RELATED: ‘My Spanish Is Terrible:’ Andrew Yang Live-Tweeting The Debate Was Better Than The Debate)
Buttigieg is a polyglot and has received widespread recognition for speaking seven languages.