Democrats' use of Spanish in debate evokes praise, eye rolls

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Some Democratic presidential hopefuls spoke some Spanish during the first televised debate of the 2020 election, evoking praise from some Latino activists and eye rolls from others.

Advocates looking for clues about how candidates would respond to issues facing Latinos saw the Spanish-speaking move Wednesday night as promising and sincere. Critics called the moves "hispandering" — a term used to describe pandering to the Hispanic community.

Their efforts were a testament to the fact that Latinos are on track to be the largest racial or ethnic group eligible to vote in 2020 with 32 million, according to figures from the Pew Research Center.

The candidates who spoke some Spanish were former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, and former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro.