As the number of Hispanic voters across the country has grown, so has the number of gringo politicians who want to say something to them — in Spanish.
But Miami is not always a good place to come practice. So many locals are fluent that they can be merciless to those who mangle the language of Cervantes.
More than a few of those critics privately assailed Florida Gov. Rick Scott last week when he used his closing at a debate against Democratic rival Charlie Crist to deliver a halting paragraph — far beyond the usual cursory few words — in Spanish, a tongue the Republican governor concedes he has yet to master.
“Mi español no es perfecto,” Scott said Monday.
Yet Miami audiences can also be very forgiving. And plenty of people — namely Hispanic Republicans — have come to the defense of the governor, who is scheduled to participate in a third and final debate at 7 p.m. Tuesday on CNN.
At Monday’s GOP rally at the West Dade Regional Library, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami praised Scott in Spanish as “a governor who is even learning to speak Spanish. So his opponent’s campaign criticizes him... because he speaks with an accent.”