The White House was compelled to issue an apology on behalf of Jill Biden Tuesday after the first lady was ripped by Hispanic lawmakers and interest groups for comparing the ethnic group’s diversity to food.
“The First Lady apologizes that her words conveyed anything but pure admiration and love for the Latino community,” Jill Biden spokesperson Michael LaRosa said in a Twitter post.
The president’s wife caused outrage after she made the odd comparison during remarks Monday at a conference of UnidosUS, formerly the National Council of La Raza.
“[Civil rights activist] Raul [Yzaguirre] helped build this organization with the understanding that the diversity of this community — as distinct as the bodegas of the Bronx, as beautiful as the blossoms of Miami, and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio — is your strength,” Jill Biden said while praising Yzaguirre, La Raza’s president and CEO for three decades.
“We are not tacos,” the National Association of Hispanic Journalists responded in a statement.
“Using breakfast tacos to try to demonstrate the uniqueness of Latinos in San Antonio demonstrates a lack of cultural knowledge and sensitivity to the diversity of Latinos in the region,” the group wrote. “NAHJ encourages Dr. Biden and her speech writing team to take the time in the future to better understand the complexities of our people and communities … Our heritage as Latinos is shaped by a variety of diasporas, cultures and food traditions, and should not be reduced to a stereotype.”
Newly elected Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Texas) slammed the first lady and Democrats on Twitter, writing: “They just don’t get it. Latinos aren’t buying their liberal pandering; we care about the rising costs of housing, food, gas, issues that impact everyday Americans. No matter how loud they yell their made up words, it won’t change the reality of their failed policies.”
Other Hispanic Republican lawmakers had more fun with the first lady’s comments. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) described himself on Twitter as “a chorizo, egg & cheese” taco. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) changed his Twitter profile picture to a taco with the notation, “#NewProfilePic.”
“Jill Biden just said Hispanics are as ‘unique’ as tacos,” Cruz communications adviser Steve Guest tweeted incredulously. “This isn’t Veep. Which White House speechwriter just won a bet for getting the First Lady to say something like this?”
In addition to the “breakfast tacos” remark, the first lady was also mocked for mispronouncing the word “bodegas” as “bo-ge-das” — with some social media wags comparing her to “King of the Hill” cartoon character Peggy Hill, who famously worked as a substitute Spanish teacher in Texas without being able to correctly say “Español.”
The flap comes as support for Biden among Hispanic voters has plummeted. A New York Times/Siena College poll published Monday showed 71% of Hispanic or Latino voters think the country is on the wrong track, while just 32% approve of the job Biden is doing and 63% disapprove.
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