Jeb Bush defended his Spanish-speaking campaigning and those in the country who speak Spanish after GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump blasted him for not sticking to English.
“I think Donald Trump is trying to insult his way to the presidency and it’s not going to work … People come to this country to pursue the dreams sometimes they start without speaking English but they learn English and they add vitality to our country,” Bush told ABC News Thursday morning.
Bush, who speaks Spanish well and who met his wife in Mexico when he was a student there suggested Trump’s anti-Spanish complaint was hypocritical.
“Why would he have a contract with Univision for his beauty pageant?” Bush said.
Bush said he laughed when he learned that Trump was criticizing him for speaking Spanish.
“This is a joke. I was in a press gaggle where people asked me a question in Spanish and I answered it in Spanish. I was in a classroom two days ago, La Progesiva High School where these young beautiful kids all speak English, but they also speak Spanish … That’s the kind of America we want,” Bush said.
The lucha over speaking español on the campaign trail is part of a heightening feud between the two GOP candidates. Trump, who has been leading the GOP field in the battle for the party’s nomination, lashed out at Bush after Bush released campaign ads blasting Trump, including statements he made years ago that showed he was more liberal on many issues.
Trump shot back at Bush, including criticizing his use of Spanish. “He really should set the example by speaking English while in the United States,” Trump told Brietbart News.
Bush said on Thursday Trump is “appealing to people’s angst and fears rather than their higher hopes.”
Even so, Bush made clear the insults wouldn't be enough to sway party loyalty and keep him from supporting Trump for president should he win the GOP nomination.
“Of course I would. We need to be unified. We need to win,” he said.
Spanish is the world’s third most spoken language, according to the United Nation’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
In the United States it is the most spoken non-English language among people 5 years and older, according to Pew Research Center. The U.S. is the world’s fifth largest Spanish speaking country.
Pew Research has found that six-in-10 U.S. adult Hispanics, 62 percent, speak English or are bilingual. The center found that while 87 percent of Latino adults said Latino immigrants need to learn English to succeed, nearly 95 percent said it’s important for future generations of U.S. Latinos to speak Spanish.
But Latinos are not the only ones valuing bilingualism, with Spanish as one of the two languages. As NBC News Latino reported, a growing number of families of all backgrounds are enrolling their children in language immersion schools and the higher demand for enrollment in the schools is coming from non-Latinos.