For those of you who are thinking “hmmmm Ted Cruz is the perfect candidate, he can even win over Hispanics!”, tread lightly. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Ted’s. However, there is a very important factor that will detract many many hispanics from voting for him.
Just last night, my own mother was feeling good about the junior Texas Senator after hearing him speak and looking at his website. Then I almost felt bad when she said in Spanish:
I’d love to meet him. I can even talk to him in Spanish!
Then I had to break her heart. “Ma, Ted no nabla Espanol”. She replied in Spanish “What! How is that Possible? I’m sticking with Marco then”.
U.S. Hispanics are a very culturally diverse people. Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are different than Venezuelans and Argentinians who are different from Peruvians and Colombians. From food to music, the world below the U.S. southern border is just as ethnically diverse as the states above it. But there is one common thread that unites us all, and helps us identify as Hispanics, and it is not the sound of our names or the colors of our skin. Those, too, are as diverse as they would be in the U.S. It is the Spanish Language.
Speaking politically, the fact that Ted’s first ad was in Spanish, and yet a man from Cuban descent did not speak in it says a lot. It tells Hispanics that this guy Cruz may have a familiar sounding last name, but that he’s going to pander to them just like every other politician, and there is no real connection to them. (I’m not saying that it IS that way, I’m saying that it is perceived that way.) How do I know? I live in Miami. I speak to other Hispanics every single day, and guess what they say…”Si, se ve bueno, per no nabla Español, verdad?” (yea, he looks good, but he doesn’t speak Spanish right?).
I’m not saying that this is going to sink his campaign, but I can bet my bottom dollar that if Ted gets the nomination, the democrats are going to drive that point home. Besides calling him a racist, I can already see Hillary practicing on Rosetta Stone just to get rid of her accent so she can do ads in Spanish.
The good news is that Ted’s first ad was in Spanish. So while that tells Hispanics something, it also tells me that Ted and his staff are aware of this, and they do realize that it is a problem. With other Spanish speaking potential candidates like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz is going to need to find a way to connect with Hispanics, and not simply rely on his name. This holds especially true in some of the early primary states like Nevada or Florida where he’s not likely to win with Bush and Rubio in the race, but a good showing will be hugely important.