COLUMBIA, South Carolina. Fighting back after being outed for his poor Spanish, Ted Cruz today challenged fellow presidential candidate Marco Rubio to a mano a mano debate to be conducted entirely in Canadian, which he called “the language of the future.”
“Look at the land of my birth,” Cruz said in an interview on PoutineVision, the Canadian-language television network. “We have a population of 36 million people and a land area of 3.85 million square miles. There’s plenty of room for growth, unlike New York City where overcrowding leads to ‘New York values.'”
The dust-up over Cruz’s Latin bona fides began in Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate when he criticized Rubio for appearing on Univision, a Spanish-language television network, and saying he would not rescind President Obama’s executive amnesty order. “I don’t know how he knows what I said on Univision,” Rubio replied sharply, “he doesn’t speak Spanish.”
Cruz was flustered for a moment, then replied in halting Spanish “Feliz Navidad. Also, dónde está el baño?”
Under the terms of engagement proposed by Cruz’s camp, each candidate would make a ten-minute opening statement on “Why I Love Hockey Night in Canada,” followed by a two-minute rebuttal, a five-minute closing statement and a recipe for chicken quesadillas.
Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, but is considered a natural-born American citizen because the local National Hockey League franchise, the Calgary Flames, first came into existence in Atlanta, Georgia. “Under Article II of the Constitution the rules of presidential eligibility are pretty clear,” said Albert Solis, Jr., a professor of constitutional law at Emory University. “You can be born in the continental United States or any Canadian province that is home to a transplanted NHL team.”
Rubio said he won’t be caught unawares the way Cruz was, and is working with his campaign team using English-to-Canadian flash cards. “‘Eh’ is apparently a very versatile word in Canadian,” he said. “It can function as a noun, a verb, an exclamation or high-fat food item available at Tim Hortons franchise outlets.”