During last night's vice presidential debate, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine reminded Republican Gov. Mike Pence multiple times that his GOP running mate, Donald Trump, said “Mexicans are rapists and criminals,” in the words of the senator from Virginia.
Having heard just about enough on the topic, with little defense for his running mate other than to say Trump meant that “some” south-of-the-border newcomers were felons, Pence said, “Senator, you've whipped out that Mexican thing again.”
That, of course, started a social media firestorm (#ThatMexicanThingAgain) that threatens to be the “Damn, Daniel” of October 2016. Latino groups seized the moment to bring attention to Trump's remarks about Mexicans, which is perhaps the opposite of what Pence intended.
The Democratic National Committee today said in a statement that “the thing he’s referring to” is “Donald Trump’s comments that Mexican immigrants are 'rapists' and 'drug-dealers,' and the Trump-Pence agenda of rounding up millions of immigrant families and kicking them out of the country.”
Southern California U.S. representatives Xavier Bacerra and Linda Sanchez joined prominent DREAM Act proponent Astrid Silva to respond to the “Mexican thing” remark via telephonic news conference.
“I have a message for Donald Trump and Mr. Pence,” Sanchez said. “'That Mexican thing' is going to come back to bite you because our community is engaged, they’re paying attention. When Latinos turn out to vote on November 8th, they’re going to remember all of the harsh words that you both have had for the Latino community.”
In a statement today, the Latino Victory Project, co-founded by Angeleno Eva Longoria, used the occasion to rally its supporters to vote:
THAT MEXICAN THING is the sacrifices our parents and grandparents have made so we could have a voice and a vote in this country.
THAT MEXICAN THING is recognizing that when we use our voice and cast our vote, we are a force that will determine the outcome of this election.
THAT MEXICAN THING is the everyday work of Latino Victory Fund, harnessing the political power of Latinos to make sure our community is represented in government.
THAT MEXICAN THING is making history this November when we help elect a HISTORIC roster of Latino candidates to office.
The same was the case for the group Mi Familia Vota, which seeks to register Latino voters and rally them to support causes that improve Latino communities in the West and in Florida.
“For many of us, 'that Mexican thing' is a hard word — es corazón and resilience,” executive director Ben Monterroso said. “We take pride in our cultural heritage, but our love for our country is truly American. We will work until the last poll closes on Nov. 8 to make sure our community exercises their right to vote.”
Last night L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar joined the fray, writing on Facebook that Pence's remark represented “exclusionary and dismissive language” that “creates division.”
“That 'thing' actually has deep roots in the American fabric and its history,” Huizar wrote “Case in point, although I was born in Mexico, my grandfather was a laborer that helped construct Los Angeles City Hall where I now serve as a council member. Our history in America is not new but extensive and integrated. We are proud Americans who proudly embrace our heritage.”