On what turned out to be the last full day of Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, a man with a distinctively English accent stood to ask him a question.
“Can you vote?” Bush interrupted with amusement.
“I don’t think so,” the man responded. “I’ve had the privilege of reporting for the Times of London — ”
“Oh, you’re a reporter, too!” Bush cut in again. (The man was a columnist.)
And then, there in Greenville, South Carolina, Bush said something that left no doubt he was still Miami Jeb: “This is going from Guatemala to Guate-peor!”
I laughed, but few others did. Besides Bush’s wife and son, a Colombian-born voter, and another bilingual reporter present, no one else seemed to get it. From bad to worse, Bush had said — using a Spanish-language colloquialism.
Moments like this made covering Bush’s candidacy particularly endearing for a Miami reporter. When I least expected it, Bush would show flashes of his inner Hispanic — even in places where his biculture couldn’t possibly fit, in a Republican primary year dominated by a front-runner who wants Mexicans to pay for a “beautiful” border wall.
On New Hampshire radio, Bush called his wife, Columba, “mi querida.” A staple of his stump speech involved telling voters, in perfectly accented Spanish, he met her in “León, Guanajuato, Mexico.” His two granddaughters, he bragged, will someday check off “not applicable” as their ethnicity in Census forms — because they’re “Texan-Mexican-Canadian-Iraqi-Americans.”
I looked for that Bush because that’s when he appeared most energized and passionate and raw. “Claro que sí,” he said about going to a same-sex wedding. “Barbaridades,” he said of Donald Trump’s insults.
Photo credit: Roberto Koltun, El Nuevo Herald