Might 2016 Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush be so eager to appeal to the Hispanic vote – the former Florida governor speaks fluent Spanish and once called illegal immigration "an act of love" – that, in a Freudian slip of sorts, he momentarily forgot his own heritage and self-identified as Hispanic in government records?
That's one possible explanation for why Mr. Bush identified himself as Hispanic in a 2009 voter registration application, according to a Miami-Dade County document published Monday by The New York Times.
Of course, it may also simply have been a mistake.
In the the field labeled “race/ethnicity," Bush marked Hispanic. Next to it was the choice, White, not Hispanic.
The Twitterverse, of course, has had a field day with this news. Bush's youngest son, Jeb Jr., first needled his Dad about the slip on Twitter.
The elder Bush quickly admitted his mistake.
After which, a torrent of jokes was unleashed, as pointed out by Salon.
I'm kind of embarrassed I have been pronouncing "Jeb" wrong all these years...— Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) April 6, 2015
“It’s unclear where the paperwork error was made," Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said, according to USA Today. "The governor’s family certainly got a good laugh out of it.”
There's reason for Bush to have momentarily forgotten his (very) white heritage: He's arguably got some of the strongest ties to the Hispanic community among the 2016 GOP contenders.
His wife, Columba Bush, was born in León, Mexico. He speaks fluent Spanish, which the former Florida governor isn't shy about showing off on the campaign trail. As the Times pointed out, he also lived in Caracas, Venezuela, for two years while working as a vice president for Texas Commerce Bank. And he has perhaps the most liberal and well-articulated immigration plans among all the candidates, Republican or Democrat. Most recently, he has indicated that he would be supportive of a "pathway to citizenship" for undocumented workers.
There's reason for this: The next GOP presidential nominee will need at least 40 percent of the Latino vote in 2016 to garner a national victory, according to the Huffington Post. As the Washington Post reported, "The last Texas Republican to occupy the Oval Office, George W. Bush, took 49 percent of the state’s Hispanic vote in his 2004 presidential re-election."
Jeb Bush, we suspect, is doing all he can do follow suit.
Considering all this, it's no wonder even Univision, apparently awestruck at his Hispanic credentials, called Bush a "Hispanic candidate."
The irony, of course, is that that couldn't be further from the truth. As the Boston Globe's Michael Kranish explains on his website:
"The English-bred Bushes and the Scottish Walkers both arrived in New England before the American Revolution. The Bushes made their fortune in the steel plants and railroads of Ohio, while the Walkers flourished in finance in Missouri."
Heck, the Bush dynasty, as New York magazine has noted, even helped settle Plymouth Colony.
In other words, Bush is as Hispanic as Bobby Jindal is blue-blooded New England WASP. But a presidential hopeful can dream, can't he?