Let’s be real for just a moment. Why do politicians have to question Latino politicians’ “Latinidad?” It happened last year when conservatives claimed that San Antonio mayor Julián Castro didn’t fit the Latino bill because he didn’t speak Spanish well, and now it is happening again with former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson (D) and Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R).
This Sunday Richardson said that Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) “should not be defined as a Hispanic.” Here is the clip.
QUESTION: What does [Bill Richardson] think of Ted Cruz.
BILL RICHARDSON: I’m not a fan. I know [Ted Cruz is] sort of the Republican latest flavor. He’s articulate. He seems to be charismatic, but I don’t like his politics. I think he introduces a measure of incivility in the political process. Insulting people is not the way to go. But I guess he’s a force in the Republican political system, but I’m not a fan.
QUESTION: Do you think he represents most Hispanics with his politics?
RICHARDSON: No, no. He’s anti-immigration. Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform. No, I don’t think he should be defined as a Hispanic. He’s a politician from Texas. A conservative state. And I respect Texas’ choice. But what I don’t like is… when you try to get things done, it’s okay to be strong and state your views, your ideology. But I’ve seen him demean the office, be rude to other senators, not be part of, I think, the civility that is really needed in Washington.
Granted, Cruz has his issues, one of his biggest being the fact that he was born in Canada to a Cuban dad and an American mom, but he is still sounds like a nativist tool when it comes to the immigration debate. But did Richardson have to go after the guy’s identity? Was it too far? We think so.
The political reaction, as you can imagine, has not been good for Richardson, and the next day, he had to clarify his comments. Here is what FOX News Latino reported:
On Fox News Channel’s “Studio B w/ Shepard Smith,” the former presidential candidate was asked about the remarks at the end of an interview involving foreign policy.
“That was a misunderstanding,” Richardson told Smith. “I said he shouldn’t be defined as a Hispanic. I’m a Hispanic. I don’t define myself as just Hispanic.”
He said his comments were “misinterpreted.”
Smith followed up by noting that the political ideologies of the former New Mexico governor and the Texas senator vary starkly.
“We disagree on immigration but all I was saying was I don’t consider myself just a Hispanic and he shouldn’t be defined as just a Hispanic,” said Richardson. “We’re other things, that’s what I said.”
In the meantime, Cruz responded to Richardson.
Hard to argue against someone when he passionately defends his family.
Say what you will about Cruz. In this case, he has every right to defend his identity. Yet Richardson’s point about Cruz not favoring what most U.S. Latino voters support when it comes to immigration reform is also correct. Richardson’s mistake was that he took it too far. He should have known better.
PS And before you all comment on the irony of Richardson’s last name, his dad was half-Anglo and half-Mexican, while his mom was born in Mexico to a Spanish dad and a Mexican mother.