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Stephen Colbert Mocks Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker’s 2020 Debate ‘Español-Off’

On CBS’ Late Show, host Stephen Colbert mocked the “español-off” at the 2020 Democratic debate, particularly the bilingual —but mostly pro forma — responses from former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Senator Cory Booker.

“I’m not entirely sure why [O’Rourke] felt he had to do that,” Colbert said of the Texas Congressman breaking into Spanish in his very first response to a question about the economy, which he never directly answered. “He’s either trying to lock up the Hispanic vote or running for ‘Embarrassing dad at a Mexican restaurant.'”

Colbert also noted that one of O’Rourke’s fellow primary candidates didn’t seem too pleased at being pre-empted in choosing to give a bilingual response.

“Cory Booker was not having it,” the CBS host said of a picture of Booker’s reaction during O’Rourke’s answer. “Check out the side-eye he gave Beto: ‘Damn! That was going to be my thing.'”

“But the moderators weren’t ready to take ‘speaks foreign language’ as an answer,” Colbert noted. “That’s time, sir. I’ll give you 10 seconds to answer if you want to answer the direct question: ‘Would you support a 70% individual marginal tax rate?’ Yes, no, or pass?” A suddenly tongue-tied Colbert-as-Beto then paused, before muttering: “Um… “No hablo Ingles.”

After a clip of Booker breaking out his own answer in Spanish on the border crisis, Colbert reacted in mock shock: “Oh snap! It is on! It is on! It is an español-off. Or, as they say it in Spanish, “Grupo de idiotas.”

And Colbert couldn’t help but get one last dig in on O’Rourke, who looked at a loss for words when he was crisply questioned in Spanish by Telemundo moderator José Diaz-Balart. Colbert, as a sheepish O’Rourke: “… Uh, that was not one of the phrases I memorized, sir. You are speaking— you are speaking a foreign language, I believe.”

Watch the video above, via CBS.

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