Which Candidate’s Spanish Won The Democratic Debates?

Over two nights of debating, four of the Democratic presidential candidates broke into Spanish. But how do their language skills measure up?
June 28, 2019
Which Candidate’s Spanish Won The Democratic Debates?

Both nights of Democratic primary debates saw heated discussions from 10 presidential candidates (20 in total) on policy and politics, but some of the more memorable moments were the ones not spoken in English. Three candidates — Representative Beto O’Rourke, Senator Cory Booker, and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro — broke into Spanish during the first night of the debate, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg showed off his Spanish skills the second night. But who won the Spanish debate? And which candidates could use a little more practice?

Watch the clips below and see how our Spanish language experts graded each candidate’s performance.

Representative Beto O’Rourke

Our Grade: B

What We Thought: “He’s basically repeating the same thing over and over, but it’s not that bad. It’s a good try!”

Other Languages The Candidate Speaks: English (native)

 

Senator Cory Booker

Our Grade: C

What We Thought: “I don’t know what he was trying to say — it sounds like he’s saying words that don’t exist.”

Other Languages The Candidate Speaks: English (native)

 

Secretary Julián Castro

Our Grade: A-

What We Thought: “He made one grammatical mistake. He sounds confident with good pronunciation, but he also didn’t say that much.”

Other Languages The Candidate Speaks: English (native — though he grew up with a Spanish-speaking grandmother)

 

Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Our Grade: B

What We Thought: “It sounds ok, but it was very short so hard to know for sure.”

Other Languages The Candidate Speaks: English (native), Norwegian, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari, and French

Speak Spanish better than the candidates.
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Dylan Lyons
Dylan is a senior content producer, overseeing video and podcast projects for the U.S. team. He studied journalism at Ithaca College and previously managed social media for CBS News. He’s currently pursuing his MBA part-time at NYU Stern. His interests include podcasts, puppies, politics, alliteration, reading, writing, and dessert. Dylan lives in New York City.
Dylan is a senior content producer, overseeing video and podcast projects for the U.S. team. He studied journalism at Ithaca College and previously managed social media for CBS News. He’s currently pursuing his MBA part-time at NYU Stern. His interests include podcasts, puppies, politics, alliteration, reading, writing, and dessert. Dylan lives in New York City.

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