Democrats Showed Off Their Spanish at Last Night’s Debate. Jackie Kennedy Did It First.

“Viva Kennedy!”

Bettmann Archive/Getty

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

It seems that not a single Democratic presidential debate can go by without Spanish-speaking candidates flaunting their fluency. Thursday’s third Democratic debate was no exception.

Regarding President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, said, “Anyone who supports this is supporting racism. Es racismo y es sencillo.” (“It’s racism and it’s simple.”)

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke took a similar approach to discussing immigration. “In our communities and our country, we need to treat every person with respect and dignity,” he said in Spanish.

Cory Booker refused to be left out of the bilingual banter. When asked whether more Americans should adopt his vegan diet, the New Jersey senator replied, “First of all, I want to say ‘no.’ Actually, I want to translate that into Spanish: ‘No.’”

But Democrats showing off their second language skills to woo Spanish-speaking voters is nothing new. Please enjoy this 1960 video of Jaqueline Kennedy telling voters to support her husband, Sen. John F. Kennedy, for president.

Here’s an English translation:

Dear Friends,

I am the wife of Senator John F. Kennedy, candidate for president of the United States. In these times of such danger, when world peace is threatened by communism, it’s necessary to have in the White House a leader capable of guiding our destiny with a firm hand. My husband will always watch over the interests of all of the parts of our society which need the protection of a humanitarian government. For the future of our children and to achieve a world where true peace exists, vote for the Democratic Party November 8th. Long live Kennedy!

Jackie Kennedy didn’t stop flexing her Spanish fluency even after her husband took office. Here she is in Miami in 1962, addressing the Cuban exiles of Brigade 2406 in Spanish following the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.

It is an honor for me today to be among a group of the bravest men in the world, and to participate in the joy that their family members must feel, who for so long lived in waiting, and prayed and hoped. I feel proud that my son has met your officials. He is still too young to realize what has happened here, but I will take care to tell him the history of your valor as he grows up. It’s my desire and my hope that some day, he will be a man at least half as courageous as the members of the Brigade 2506. Good luck.

While the “Viva Kennedy” campaign worked out for the Massachusetts senator in 1960, whether Buttigieg and O’Rourke can pull it off remains to be seen.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate