Sen. Marco Rubio fired back at GOP frontrunner Donald Trump in Tuesday’s presidential debate over speaking Spanish in the campaign, even though it was Jeb Bush who was the target of Trump’s derision on using the language.
Rubio evoked his immigrant grandfather who he said loved Ronald Reagan and taught him he was “blessed” to live in the U.S., where he can aspire to do anything and be anything “I was willing to work hard to achieve.”
“But he taught me that in Spanish, because it was the language he was most comfortable in,” Rubio said.
Rubio said his grandfather got his news in Spanish, and because he believes “free enterprise and limited government is the best way to help people who are trying to achieve upward mobility and if they get their news in Spanish, I want them to hear that directly from me, not from a translator at Univision.”
Rubio made the statements after Trump said that to "assimilate" in the U.S. you need to speak English.
Rubio drew applause and seemed to steal some thunder from Bush, whose Spanish speaking on the campaign originally drew Trump’s ire. Trump admonished Bush again during the debate for using Spanish, saying this is a country “where we speak English.”
“I’ve been speaking English here tonight and I’ll be speaking English but the simple fact is a high school kid asked me a question in Spanish,” Bush said, adding that he was showing respect by responding in Spanish.
However, Bush did push back hard on Trump in attempt to make him apologize for retweeting a tweet from one of his followers that said Bush "has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife."
"My wife is Mexican American. She loves this country as much as anyone in this room," Bush said of his wife Columba. Trump refused to apologize "because said nothing wrong," but he added, "I hear she is a lovely woman."
As with the previous debate, immigration was a prominent issue, although it came far later into the evening. The candidates jockeyed to be the tougher on securing the border and several reiterated support for eliminating birthright citizenship.
Carly Fiorina shot down Trump's claims that he had brought the issue to the race, saying the issue has been lingering for 25 years and later said Democrats "don't want the issue solved."