Jeb Bush vows to enact comprehensive immigration reform. To Telemundo. In Spanish.

A story about Jeb Bush being in favor of amnesty, er… sorry, “comprehensive immigration reform” shouldn’t be anything new. But at the same time, the candidate seems to have been sending some mixed messages to the base over the course of his 2016 campaign. Not that long ago he said that he would rescind the President’s executive amnesty program, but speaking to a different outlet during that same week he hinted pretty much the exact opposite. It can all be so confusing, can’t it?

But this week he did an interview for a Spanish speaking outlet where he seems to give an at least somewhat more clear explanation. (Washington Post)

In an interview with Telemundo, Bush sat for roughly 25 minutes answering questions from anchor Jose Diaz-Balart, who also hosts a daytime program on MSNBC. The exchange began by reminding viewers that Bush’s wife, Columba, is from Mexico, and that his children are bilingual and bicultural.

Speaking in Spanish, Bush said: “We are very Hispanic, in that we speak Spanish in the house. Columba is a good Mexican, proud of her citizenship of this country, of course, but we eat Mexican food in the home. My children are Hispanic in many aspects. We don’t talk about it, but the Hispanic influence is an important part of my life.”

I get that Bush is still in line with the GOP “reboot” which came out of the 2012 postmortem, and he’s mindful of the demographics we’re dealing with, not just in Florida, but in many critical states. But there are limits to the time honored tradition of tailoring your message to the audience. Diaz-Balart is a mainstay of the MSNBC, pro-amnesty stable, and his ability to conduct his reports in Spanish makes him a perfect fit for Telemundo. Similarly, this is a media outlet which is tremendously popular with the demographic slice of the electorate in question and remains virtually unknown to the rest of the primarily English speaking country. You can see where this is going by now.

There was a time not that long ago when this could be a very effective strategy. Nobody in the English speaking community was paying much attention to what went on at the Spanish speaking stations and the two media worlds remained largely separate. If a candidate had the ability to do so, they could sit down for an interview like this and pretty much nobody outside of the target audience would really know about it. But this is the 21st century and everyone is watching everything. Those sorts of walls don’t hold up any more for politicians and I think most of them know it. That’s why this portion of the interview caught a lot of attention immediately:

He also vowed to enact comprehensive immigration reform during his first term as president — a significant priority for a Spanish-speaking audience and a pledge that he noted President Obama also made, but failed to achieve.

So there you have it. A promise to enact “comprehensive immigration reform” made on tape. Bush may want to quibble about the specifics and say that doesn’t mean “amnesty” in his world view, but that’s going to be a tough sell.