The Democratic party’s commitment to Latinx voters was evident in Wednesday’s debate, as former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) broke out into Spanish at various points in the night in an attempt to impress the Hispanic constituency.

The first jump to Spanish came from O’Rourke, who spontaneously changed languages when asked about the economy early on in the debate. “Necessitamos incluir cada persona en el exito de este economia,” O’Rourke said, which means “we need to include every person in the success of this economy. O’Rourke, who is fluent in Spanish, represented El Paso, Texas, in Congress, a city with a large Latinx community who the representative served during his years in D.C.

O’Rourke’s performance clearly spooked Booker, resulting in an image which has already been turned into a meme.

Booker, who is also fluent in Spanish, was the next to switch languages, answering a question about what he would do during his first day in office in both English and Spanish. The senator answered that he would reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and end Immigrations and Customs Enforcement policies that he said violated the “human rights” of immigrants.

The last debater to change languages was Castro, the only Hispanic candidate on stage. During his closing statement, the former HUD secretary said, “my name is Julián Castro and I’m running for president of the United States.”


The Democrats’ decision to answer some questions in Spanish is a clear indicator that the party is attempting to win over the votes of the Latinx community, a group that will be crucial to victory in the 2020 election. Many presidential hopefuls have already been courting Hispanic voters by appearing on Spanish television networks, such as Sen. Kamala Harris‘ (D-California) appearance on a Univision cooking show. So far candidates have been unable to break out in the Latinx community, with only former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) achieving name recognition among the community.

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