On Monday, First Lady Jill Biden was addressing a group of Hispanics in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Biden was invited to speak at the UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza), where she commented that Latinos “were as unique as breakfast tacos.” The FLOTUS has since apologized for the remark.
The first lady also mispronounced the word “bodega.” She was attempting to praise the former head of UnidosUS, Rual Yzaguirre. Yzaguirre lead the organization for three decades.
Dr. Biden was describing the diversity of the Hispanic community, saying, “. . .the diversity of the community, as distinct as the bogedas (sic) of the Bronx . . and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio, is your strength.” The First Lady appeared to chuckle briefly after the remark.
In San Antonio, one of the largest Latino cities in America, part of the celebrated local cuisine has to do with breakfast tacos. A simple Google search shows multiple banner reviews for restaurants that serve breakfast tacos. For instance, Yelp provides reviews for the “ten best breakfast taco spots in San Antonio;” Eater Austin says that breakfast tacos are the “pride and joy” of San Antonio.
Likely, the First Lady’s speech writers did similar research to this writer and found the city of San Antonio culturally associated with this type of meal. The comment is comparable to then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s claim – as she sat down in an African American restaurant on the campaign trail – and claimed she carried a bottle of hot sauce in her purse. Perhaps the intent was not to harm or demean anyone.
Yet, the tone-deaf remark was met with great criticism. On Tuesday morning, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists released a statement stating, “We are not ‘tacos.'” The organization also said that both the First Lady and her speech writers should “better understand the complexities of our people.”
Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ) tweeted, “No wonder Hispanics are fleeing the Democratic Party!” Biggs wasn’t the only Republican to comment on the gaff; Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) changed his profile picture on Twitter to that of a taco. Mayra Flores (R-TX) said, “Latinos aren’t buying their liberal pandering.” Flores added that Latinos are worried about the financial future, given the rising costs of fuel and groceries.
The First Lady’s spokesperson, Michael LaRosa, tweeted: “The First Lady apologizes that her words conveyed anything but pure admiration and love for the Latino community.” The apology came just a few hours before President Biden is scheduled to meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Others have posited online regarding the taco comment, and they point to what seems like an exodus of Hispanic voters from the Democratic Party. On Monday, a poll taken in tandem by The New York Times and Siena College showed that of Hispanic or Latino voters, more than seventy percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. In the same survey, only 32 percent of the group offered a positive approval rating for President Biden. More than 63 percent of Hispanic voters disapprove of the job President Biden is doing.
Many political pundits have been pointing out for weeks that Hispanics are leaving the Democratic Party “in droves.” In a June special election, Republican Mayra Flores was elected over her Democratic opponent – in a typically “safe” Democratic congressional district. Flores herself was once a registered Democrat. However, this is only one piece of evidence that the Democratic Party is losing Hispanic voters. A May 2022 poll showed that “kitchen table issues” – the price of food and fuel in addition to surging rent costs and higher energy bills – are the number one political issue for Hispanics.
In Florida, more citizens (Hispanics as well as other races) are registering to vote Republican. In Washington, DC, two Hispanic Congresspeople are creating a Hispanic Leadership Trust, which is meant to help elect conservative Hispanics to federal seats.