Jeb’s Telemundo Spanish-speaking interview

Jeb BushBy Lynn R. Mitchell

It’s compelling to hear former Florida Governor Jeb Bush communicate to the large Spanish-speaking community in their language, something he did in Florida on Monday as he opened up about a variety of subjects and issues (see Jeb Bush to seek Latino support in Central Florida by Ed O’Keefe in the Washington Post). At a time when he is leading his fellow Floridian Senator Marco Rubio by 28-16 percent, Jeb is shoring up support in areas that supported him as governor:

In a first as a presidential candidate, the Republican plans to sit for a Spanish-language interview with a Telemundo news anchor. He will meet with dozens of mostly Hispanic evangelical pastors at a mega-church, visit a small business owned by a Mexican immigrant and try to introduce himself to the hundreds of thousands of people who have moved to this transient region in the eight years since he left the governor’s mansion.

Interviewer José Díaz-Balart had positive remarks Tuesday morning on his MSNBC show, The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart. Díaz-Balart, a respected journalist with 30 years of experience, also anchors two programs on Telemundo, Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart and Noticiero Telemundo.

Good points came out during the interview (see Jeb Bush: Telemundo Spanish interview). On Donald Trump’s negative comments about Mexico:

“I was hurt hearing somebody speaking in such a vulgar fashion. This makes the solving of this problem much more difficult when we have politicians talking like that,” he said. “Besides that, he was offending millions of people that are here legally. It makes no sense. In a political sense, it’s bad and it creates an environment that is worse.”

His well-documented plan to handle the illegal immigrants who are already in the U.S. was restated in this interview:

“First, coming here legally has to be easier than coming here illegally,” he said. “So there needs to be an agreement with the border … for the 11 million people (who are here illegally), they must come out of the shadows, receive a work visa, start paying taxes and also pay a small fine, learn English, don’t receive government benefits, but they come out of the shadows and they receive legal status after some time.”

Other issues were discussed but Díaz-Balart was impressed with the way Governor Bush shared a more personal side. More of that will be shown in a longer aired interview this weekend but Bush reconfirmed already-known facts (see In Spanish, Jeb Bush recounts his children were taunted for their skin color by Ed O’Keefe in the Washington Post):

On Monday, Bush spoke in deeply personal terms about his family’s Hispanic heritage — and did so entirely in Spanish, providing a strong contrast with the recent rhetoric of Donald Trump, whether intentional or not. He also vowed to enact comprehensive immigration reform during his first term as president — a significant priority for a Spanish-speaking audience and a pledge that he noted President Obama also made, but failed to achieve.

The exchange began by reminding viewers that Bush’s wife, Columba, is from Mexico, and that his children are bilingual and bicultural.

Speaking in Spanish, Bush said: “We are very Hispanic, in that we speak Spanish in the house. Columba is a good Mexican, proud of her citizenship of this country, of course, but we eat Mexican food in the home. My children are Hispanic in many aspects. We don’t talk about it, but the Hispanic influence is an important part of my life.”

Diaz-Balart asked if Bush’s three children had ever faced criticism for their skin tone or their accent and how he might have spoken to them about it.

“I remember one time when my son went to Ocala to play in a baseball game and the team was from Miami,” he said. “The majority were Hispanics – my son George has brown skin. … At one point, I had to describe, or tell him that people like him aren’t the majority. You need to accept it, but move on. Because he was really annoyed because he and his friends — we don’t have that problem in Miami, but in other parts of the country, yes. It was a good lesson to remember that we still don’t have a country of complete justice. You can see it in African American communities too, that there’s still discrimination. But in my life, it’s important to remember that.”

Watching the interview, I was further impressed with not only Bush’s grasp on issues but also his ease at communicating in Spanish, a language he learned as a teenager. For more on his background, see his website. Click here to see the interview.

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