POLITICS

TX Sen candidate demands Spanish-language debate

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, R-Texas, challenged Republican rival Ted Cruz to a Spanish-language debate, according to Univision.

The Cruz team dismissed the "gimmick" from Dewhurst. "It's no surprise that David Dewhurst would like to debate in another language," Cruz campaign aide John Drogin told The Washington Examiner. "He wants to debate in a language that 99 percent of primary voters don't understand to hide his claim that the Dewhurst Wage Tax isn't an income tax or the claim that his $72 billion spending increase is a 'cut.'"

The proposal comes after Dewhurst tried to recruit illegal immigration hawks in the primary by accusing Cruz of favoring amnesty.

Cruz is a second-generation Cuban American, but not fluent in Spanish. Both candidates would have at least some struggles in a Spanish-language debate. "I am rusty today. But I am comfortable talking in Spanish," Dewhurst told the Houston Chronicle. "I am not flawless or fluent, but I am comfortable. It takes me a day or two speaking a lot of Spanish to get back into a rhythm."

An SMU political science professor seemed to concur with the Cruz campaign's view of Dewhurst's proposal. "Dewhurst wants to control the number and form of the debates," Cal Jillison said, suggesting -- per the Chronicle -- that "Dewhurst wants to minimize his chances of making a mistake that could be broadcast across the state."

Update: Matt Hirsch, a spokesman for the Dewhurst campaign, told The Washington Examiner that the lieutenant governor has agreed to two televised, English-language debates in the run-off. As for the smaller grassroots venue debates, Hirsch said their campaign was "still taking a look" at the various invitations. Hirsch also credited Univision with first raising the idea of a Spanish-language debate.

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