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Eric Swalwell Swipes at Rivals Ahead of Night Two Debate: I Won’t Be ‘Butchering Spanish’

Part two of the NBC Democratic Debate on Thursday will feature the second group of ten candidates vying for the nomination, which includes Rep. Eric Swalwell of California. He spoke with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin ahead of that debate about the topics, the other candidates, and whether he, like Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker, will speak Spanish during the debate.

He won’t, he said, be “butchering” Spanish during his appearance on stage.

Baldwin asked first about healthcare, and about the idea of ending private healthcare, a question polled by a show of hands in part one of the debate on Wednesday, when both Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill McCheese were the only ones who raised theirs.

“Do you think that is disqualifying to win a general election for her?” she asked, offering a chance to burn Warren.

Swalwell dissembled at first, but when Baldwin interrupted to repeat the question, he was more specific. “It’s not disqualifying, but it’s not what the American people are asking for,” he said.

Baldwin then asked whether, if it’s not disqualifying, would wanting to get rid of private health insurance at least make it harder to win a general election. “Yes,” said Swalwell. “It just flies in the face, I think, of the choices that people want to have.”

Baldwin then asked Swalwell whether he supports decriminalizing border crossings, a case which candidate Julian Castro made most notably in part one of the debate. Swalwell said yes, he does support it.

She next asked if he would “go after” former Vice President Joe Biden‘s record on Thursday night. Swalwell instead answered that he supports taking away some types of guns, and said he has “taken on the Russians”, and that he will “stand up to Donald Trump” and “take him to task” as the nominee.

Baldwin again asked if he would take on Biden directly, and Swalwell stretched out his answer to basically say that Biden is too old and has been a politician for too long to be a good nominee. In fact, he even said Biden wouldn’t be around long enough to live with the decisions he makes in office. Seriously.

Finally, Baldwin asked him about the language moment. “Last question, Congressman, will you be practicing your Spanish tonight?” she asked, prompting a laugh from Swalwell.

“I’m going to be me, and so that’s not going to include butchering Spanish,” he said.

Both Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker offered answers in Spanish on Wednesday, and O’Rourke’s moment did not sell. Not at all. Even CNN’s own Chris Cillizza called O’Rourke out for it. Not to mention Stephen Colbert.

Swalwell can claim the “butchering’ line was self-deprecating, but with all the press, and the shared laugh with Baldwin, it’s not hard to take it as a burn on Beto.

“I’m going to be myself,” said Swalwell in conclusion. “I think that will be enough.”

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