Don’t tell Laura Ingraham, Steve King, or some other Republican immigration hardliners, but Jeb Bush is commemorating Cinco de Mayo. Bush recorded a video message Tuesday to the entire U.S. Hispanic community, “and especially to our fellow Americans of Mexican origin,” as he says in the video.
“Cinco de Mayo is an honorable date when Mexico, our neighbor, bravely defended itself against a foreign intervention,” he says.
Although that event is confused in this country as somehow being Mexican Independence Day (that’s Sept. 16), Cinco de Mayo marks the date of a Mexican military victory over France — not Spain. On May 5, 1862, several hundred Mexican soldiers defeated a much larger contingent of the French army in the Battle of Puebla. France had sent troops to Mexico after the country suspended payments on foreign debts. Although Mexico ultimately lost this war (and the French did not withdraw until several years later), the Battle of Puebla was a huge morale booster for Mexicans.
Bush’s wife Columba is a native of Mexico, whom he met in the early 1970s while was on a study-abroad trip to Mexico as a high school student.
In the video, the former Florida governor shows his ease in speaking Spanish, which along with his approach toward immigration, makes him probably the most attractive Republican candidate for Latino voters. Marco Rubio is Cuban American and also speaks Spanish, but his separation from the 2013 immigration bill that he helped sponsor in the Senate has painted him as someone not as friendly to Hispanic voters as Bush.
The former Florida governor leads the GOP field of 2016 candidates (though Bush himself is not yet an “official” candidate), getting 23 percent support in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Rubio comes in second with 18 percent.