Nightly Show Panel Questions Whether Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio Are Really True Hispanics

As if they didn’t learn anything from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the panel on Monday’s Nightly Show decided to call into question the Hispanic credentials of Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to the point where the collective community supposedly does not “even necessarily consider them Latino because they haven’t embraced their heritage.”

After discussing the various divisions and differences across the various Hispanic nationalities, host Larry Wilmore tossed this question out to the panel of gay, liberal, illegal immigrant commentator Jose Antonio Vargas and Nightly Show contributors Jordan Carlos and Grace Parra: “Why do you think Cruz and Rubio don't really embrace their Hispanic heritage?”

Wilmore almost immediately tacked on this addition as well before any of the three were able to fully chime in: “Or do they just use it when it's convenient?”

Parra opined that Cruz and Rubio “use it when it's convenient” for their political careers but lamented that she’s personally distraught on “the issue of bilingualism because Rubio speaks perfect Spanish and he never chooses to pull it out” (even though he’s often used his Spanish in interviews and the 2013 State of the Union response).

She also noted Jeb Bush’s fluent Spanish-speaking abilities and following the panel briefly mocking his failed campaign logo, the liberal comedian continued questioning on behalf of all Latinos whether the conservatives candidates are truly part of the team:

I think race is important to talk about when talking about this because it feels like, in an attempt to get rich, white voters —  Rubio and Cruz have actually alienated Latinos to the point where Latinos don't trust them. We don’t even necessarily consider them Latino because they haven’t embraced their heritage.

Upon noting the “27.3 million Hispanics who are eligible to vote this year,” Antonio Vargas noted the well-documented belief on the left and right that “Donald Trump is the greatest mobilizer of the Latino voter and the Asian vote and the black vote this country has ever seen and I think all of these voters are going to turn out.”

The relevant portion of the transcript from Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on February 22 can be found below.

Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore
February 22, 2016
11:56 p.m. Eastern

LARRY WILMORE: Why do you think Cruz and Rubio don't really embrace their Hispanic heritage? 

NIGHTLY SHOW CONTRIBUTOR JORDAN CARLOS: Whoa! They're Hispanic? 

WILMORE: Yeah. I know. Or do they just use it when it's convenient? 

NIGHTLY SHOW CONTRIBUTOR GRACE PARRA: That's what will what they do, they use it when it's convenient and to me, it’s really upsetting especially when it comes to the issue of bilingualism because Rubio speaks perfect Spanish — 

JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS: Perfect Spanish, yeah

PARRA: — and he never chooses to pull it out. Jeb Bush also, Jeb Bush — 

ANTONIO VARGAS: Perfect Spanish.

PARRA: — perfect Spanish and during his entire campaign, never spoke it. He just never.

WILMORE: Well, he had the upside down explanation point a couple of times.

PARRA: That's true. 

CARLOS: He did.

WILMORE: He did. Out of fairness. That's true. 

PARRA: I think race is important to talk about when talking about this because it feels like, in an attempt to get rich, white voters — 

ANTONIO VARGAS: Yes.

PARRA: Rubio and Cruz have actually alienated Latinos to the point where Latinos don't trust them. We don’t even necessarily consider them Latino because they haven’t embraced their heritage.

WILMORE: Is it going to be a major factor in this election? 

ANTONIO VARGAS: Oh, huge.

PARRA: Oh, huge. This is the biggest — 

ANTONIO VARGAS: Huge

PARRA: — there are 27.3 million Hispanics who are eligible to vote this year, more than ever before.

ANTONIO VARGAS: More than ever before.

PARRA: 44 percent are millennials, too which is huge and we're an excitable people, so — yea.

WILMORE: Excitable? Yeah, very excitable. 

ANTONIO VARGAS: Donald Trump is the greatest mobilizer of the Latino voter and the Asian vote and the black vote this country has ever seen and I think all of these voters are going to turn out. 

PARRA: Against him?

ANTONIO VARGAS: Against him.

PARRA: Okay, I hope so. 

ANTONIO VARGAS: We'll see. 

WILMORE: Okay, we’ll see.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center