The Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech came from Florida Senator, Marco Rubio.
He blasted the president as a big spender and supporter of big government.
Rubio, who is Cuban-American, delivered his message in both English and Spanish, and he mentioned his immigrant roots in his response.
He’s also one of the senators supporting comprehensive immigration reform now.
Latino voters played a critical role in Obama’s re-election last fall, and Republicans clearly want to claw back some of those votes.
“It’s an important nod to the Latino community,” says Professor Richard Pineda, of Rubio’s decision to speak in Spanish.
Pineda teaches politics and communications at the University of Texas at El Paso.
“And it certainly is important for people around the country to hear a politician who has that particular immigrant background.”
However, Pineda mentions that many major markets did not carry the speech.
Also, Pineda notes, Rubio has a strong Cuban accent.
While most Latinos speak Spanish, accents are very distinctive, says Pineda, and carry “a lot of baggage.”
For example, nationalism.
Mexican-Americans “really distinguish themselves from Cuban-Americans, who they see in a different and distinct light,” adds Pineda.
“I think it (also) reveals the subtlety of a class conflict that exists across the Latino community, and also I think highlights the geographic difference and disparity, so that you’ve got a very unique experience in terms of immigration for groups in different parts of the country.”