The Republican race for the Presidential nomination is getting increasingly fevered, with Donald Trump leading the way, but two Spanish-speaking candidates, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida have enough support combined to beat Mr Trump. One of them could become America’s first Hispanic President, if the other steps aside.
The importance of the Hispanic vote is increasing as the percentage of registered voters from this group reaches 12% this year, nearly as many as black voters. Traditionally the Latino electorate has tended to vote for Democratic Party candidates in presidential elections, but if Rubio or Cruz does succeed in beating Trump to the Republican nomination then he may prove strong opposition for the Democratic Party candidate. Marco Rubio speaks fluent Spanish, but Ted Cruz, despite his Cuban descent, admits his Spanish is “lousy”.
Recognising the importance of Spanish-speaking electors Telemundo, a CNN broadcast partner for Thursday night’s Republican debate, translated the verbal skirmishing live. A big team of simultaneous interpreters in their studios translated the entire debate. The channel trumpeted “Por la primera vez este año, el debate republicano de esta noche se podrá escuchar en español” – “for the first time this year, tonight’s Republican debate can be heard in Spanish” The channel said “we have a tremendous responsibility to inform and empower our audience in the language they prefer.” The channel is also encouraging Hispanic voters to register so they can have a say in the elections.
But will even a Spanish-speaking candidate from the more conservative Republican Party be able to wean Hispanic voters away from the Democrats? And can they agree to work together to defeat Mr Trump? Ted Cruz said: “It is absolutely clear that Republicans have to do a much better job with the Hispanic community” and was happy to endorse Marco Rubio above Donald Trump “Marco and I would both make a much better candidate and a much better President than would Donald”. So maybe we’re about to witness some history, as a Spanish-speaking candidate wins for the first time – it’s turning into a very interesting race!