What Happened When Marco Rubio Said Ted Cruz Couldn't Understand Spanish

February 14th 2016

In one of the more bizarre moments of Saturday night's raucous Republican debate, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had an exchange over whether Cruz can speak Spanish.

Cruz Rubio SpanishCBS News

It started when Rubio accused Cruz of assuring the Spanish-speaking audience of Univision that he would not undo the immigration executive actions taken by President Barack Obama.

Rubio fired back by saying that Cruz wouldn't know what Rubio said in Spanish because Cruz does not speak Spanish. "I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish," Rubio said.

Cruz Rubio SpanishCBS News

Cruz replied in Spanish, saying "Ahora mismo, dicelo ahora en español si quieres." Boston.com says that translates to "Say it now in Spanish if you want."

So does Cruz speak Spanish? When he turned down a Spanish-speaking Senate debate in 2012, he explained that he merely speaks "Spanglish."

“My Spanish is a situation many of your viewers will recognize, which is that as a second generation immigrant, my dad came from Cuba when he was a teenager not speaking English. And I grew up here speaking Spanglish,” Cruz said, according to The Daily Caller.

Cruz and Rubio have battled over immigration several times over the last six months. Immigration is a tough issue for Rubio. He led the Senate's efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would have legalized undocumented workers in the U.S. This legislation was not popular among Republicans, and the Senate bill eventually died in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Cruz has tried to make Rubio pay for that stance, understanding it will not help Rubio in a Republican Primary.

You can see the whole exchange here:

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