Both Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer could not name the president of Mexico during a Telemundo interview in Nevada.
But one candidate, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was also interviewed by Telemundo’s Guadalupe Venegas, did recall the name of President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrado. “Yeah, President Lopez Obrador, I hope,” Buttigieg said with a laugh. Lopez Obrado began his presidential term in December 2018.
When Venegas asked Steyer, a billionaire businessman, the reporter said, “I’m asking because I feel like a lot of the time, this is our neighbor to the south, and a lot of people don’t even know his name. So… do you know his name?”
“I forget,” was Steyer’s response, though he did elaborate that while he didn’t know his name, he knew he espoused progressive policies.
When Klobuchar was asked, “What do you know about the president of Mexico?” she first said she would visit Mexico in the first 100 days of her presidency and said she knew he’d been recently elected. But Venegas followed up, saying, “I ask because it’s so important, especially to Nevada, California, Texas… But do you know who he is? Do you know his name?”
Klobuchar fumbled for a response: “Yes, yes,” she said at first before saying, “I know that he is the Mexican president.”
“But can you tell me his name?” Venegas asked.
“No,” Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar has also been criticized for her 2007 vote to make English the national language of the United States, a position she now says she has reversed. “I think that when you look at a state like [Nevada], and a country like ours that is so diverse, you don’t want to have that provision in law because then it would be very difficult to have, say, government documents and other things translated into other languages,” she said Friday. “So that is not a position I take. I did vote that way, but way back then, along with many other people.”
The AP noted, however, that then-senators Joe Biden and Barack Obama both voted against that bill, as did Bernie Sanders. Some have also criticized Klobuchar for her comments in a 2006 Senate campaign debate where she called for a border fence to prevent undocumented immigrants from entering the country. She justified those comments on Friday as well, saying that she took “a lot of heat” on the issue of immigration during that particular race.
Thus far, Klobuchar has made a strong showing in the two majority-white early primary states New Hampshire and Iowa, but the true test of her campaign will come when states with more diverse populations like Nevada, Texas and California vote in the next few weeks.
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