April 7, 2015


How Hispanic Is Jeb Bush? (SILVIA KILLINGSWORTH, 4/07/15, The New Yorker)

At a Hispanic Leadership Network conference in Miami in 2013, the former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, who is a Cuban-born Republican, described Jeb Bush as "just as Hispanic as everyone in this room, and maybe a little more." He was embellishing the truth, but not by much--Bush married Columba Garnica de Gallo, in 1974, after meeting her four years earlier while on a school trip to Mexico. He studied Latin American affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and he and Columba lived in Caracas, Venezuela, for two years before settling down in Florida, where he began a long career in Republican politics. [...]

Bush speaks fluent, near-effortless Spanish as the result of his long-term life choices rather than as part of an effort to win Hispanic votes (a political tactic I have previously called "Hispandering"). As a result, the Spanish-language media is taking him seriously as a candidate who might appeal to Latino voters. Earlier this year, on his Sunday morning talk show, "Al Punto," Ramos told Gutierrez, "For the first time in history, we have two Hispanic candidates from the Republican Party"--Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz--and, with a good-natured shrug of his shoulders, he added, "and Jeb Bush, if we want to convert him to Latino as well!" Gutierrez responded, "I think it's very good that we have Hispanics, but there are different types of Hispanics." He wasn't referring to Caribbean versus Central American Hispanics, or the difference between Mexicans and Chicanos. He said he preferred not to compare Cruz (a Canadian-born Cuban-American) with Rubio (an American-born Cuban), because the latter is more moderate and the former is on the extreme right. His Goldilocks candidate is the effectively Hispanic Jeb Bush, whose policies he says he knows and likes best. Like many centrists, Bush supports comprehensive immigration reform--legal status and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants--and has distanced himself from the Tea Party extremism of calls for sealing borders. He said in 2013 that immigrants are the economic engine of the U.S., and, in a brief interview last December, told Miami's NBC affiliate, "I think there's a compelling case that, if we want to be young and dynamic again, we have to make legal immigration easier." So if heritage matters less than track records and platforms, then what should it matter to Hispanic voters how Jeb Bush identifies himself, mistakenly or otherwise?

Posted by at April 7, 2015 1:08 PM

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