LAS VEGAS — Donald Trump pulled out some Spanish during the third and final presidential debate, and it appears to be a historical first for a general election debate.
Speaking about immigration, Trump said:
“We’re going to secure the border, and once the border is secured at a later date, we’ll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.”
While Trump is not a Spanish speaker, this appears to be the first time in modern history that a presidential nominee has spoken Spanish on a general election debate stage, based on available transcripts of previous debates.
Previously, Clinton campaign staff was hopeful that their vice presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, would speak directly to Spanish speakers during the vice presidential debate. He didn’t.
Other presidential nominees — like Al Gore, George W. Bush, and Mitt Romney — have all used Spanish during their campaigns. And during this election cycle, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and, again, Tim Kaine have brought out the language in primary debates and on the trail.
Still, it’s unclear whether Latino voters care. Ed O’Keefe at the Washington Post notes that several studies show a majority of Latinos voting aren’t swayed by a candidate’s ability to speak Spanish.