Late-night hosts scorched former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-TX) for speaking Spanish during the first 2020 Democrat presidential debate in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday evening.
O’Rourke showed off his fluent Spanish while answering his first question of the Democratic presidential debate.
The Texas Democrat contended in English “this economy has got to work for everyone” and that, right now, it isn’t. Then he switched to Spanish, saying in that language that “we need to include everyone” in a booming national economy.
O’Rourke, who hails from the Texas-Mexico border city of El Paso, spoke in Spanish at length, then switched back to English. He claimed the Trump administration has focused on helping the wealthy and large corporations over everyday Americans — echoing similar sentiments of the other Democrats on stage.
Of O’Rourke’s surprise use of Spanish, Comedy Central’s Daily Show host Trevor Noah joked: “He knows there’s one way to spice up a bland affair!”
“This guy was so fluent, I bet half of America thought they flipped to Univision by mistake,” Noah then quipped, motioning the clicking of the remote.
Over on CBS’s The Late Show, funnyman Stephen Colbert called O’Rourke’s performance a “linguistic surprise” before expressing confusion over the former lawmaker’s thinking by not sticking to only English. “[I’m] not entirely sure why he felt he had to do that,” Colbert said to laughter from the audience. “He’s either trying to lock up the Hispanic vote or he’s running for embarrassing dad at a Mexican restaurant.”
“Here’s the crazy thing, was when Beto was habla-ing the Espanol, In the close-captioning, it just said,” speaking foreign language,” the CBS host added. He then joked the candidate’s Spanish remarks to English viewers, “Really got through, really penetrated.”
NBC’s Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon got his digs in too, joking that the reaction of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) to O’Rourke was downright hilarious and later busted into an impression of longshot candidate New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking in phonetic Spanish to avoid being upstaged by the Texas Democrat.
Cory Booker's face while Beto O'Rourke speaks in Spanish LMAO pic.twitter.com/9aaPALihfC
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) June 27, 2019
The AP contributed to this report.