Dewhurst Challenges Cruz to Spanish Debate. Como Se Dice "Go Back to Mexico"?

Republican candidates in Texas are historically bad at courting Hispanic voters, so it's no wonder senate candidate Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst welcomes a novel approach: a debate in Spanish with his run-off challenger, the Tea Party sweetheart Ted Cruz.

We hope this happens. We hope it happens with the same sick desire that drives us to watch reality television and root for girls to cry on The Bachelor. A Spanish debate would be equally consequential, our desire for it equally twisted.

This would be an opportunity for Dewhurst and Cruz to battle about who's tougher on amnesty in the language understood by many who would be affected by both of their boot-'em-back politics.

Dewhurst can tell the Hispanic population -- in their native language -- that he believes children of illegal immigrants should not receive the benefit of in-state tuition rates. Cruz can, well, agree.

A debate in Spanish would show Hispanic voters that yes, Dewhurst probably took their language in high school and maybe college, and it would show that yes, Cruz, whose father moved to the U.S. from Cuba can speak "Spanglish," as he describes it. As to how many Hispanic voters either would court through this exercise in frivolous one-upsmanship, that's a dubious prospect.

The ever-expanding voting bloc is actually a long-term threat to the ease with which Republicans maintain their seat at the head of the Texas table, as detailed in this Texas Monthly article. But let's face it: messages of deportation, border security, fences and denial of basic citizen benefits just don't resonate with Hispanic voters.

The debate "challenge" was reported by Univision, though a Dewhurst spokesman told the New York Times that it was the Spanish news outlet's idea, not the Lieutenant Governor's. Nevertheless, the spokesman said, "He is interested and intrigued by Univision's suggestion." As are we.

Dewhurt, it seems, can only speak in laborious platitudes in Spanish. "We can have a more intelligent program for legal immigration," Dewhurst said in calculated Spanish. "I have helped growth for tomorrow," he said, adding that he was influential in creating a Texas "success model." He sounded like he was talking to a child, not potential Hispanic voters across Texas.

As for Cruz, he's open to a debate, but his Spanish won't pass muster. "I would welcome a debate with Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst in any forum, but I think we'd have a better debate if we did the debate in English," Cruz told the Univision reporter, adding that he has "Spanglish" in common with many second-generation Americans. When the reporter asked if Latinos are important to him, his Spanish kicked in for an enthusiastic "Si, si."

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Leslie Minora