GOP response to Obama speech includes immigration, but only in Spanish

Republican #SOTU response different for Spanish- and English-speaking audiences

Spanish- and English-speaking audiences received different messages Tuesday night during the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address.

Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who delivered the Spanish-language response, advocated working on immigration reform. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst left that issue out of her remarks in English entirely. 

During Ernst's response, she discussed topics including improving the economy and simplifying the tax code. The Spanish-speaking audience heard Curbelo touch on immigration as well as education and Cuba -- topics Ernst also didn't address.

"We should also work through the appropriate channels to create permanent solutions for our immigration system, to secure our borders, modernize legal immigration and strengthen our economy," Curbelo said in Spanish. "In the past the president has expressed support for ideas like these. Now we ask him to cooperate with us to realize them."

Curbelo and Ernst gave the officially sanctioned GOP responses and a statement from the House Republican Conference said the two "delivered the same Republican message."

However, the statement also noted that they each "shared their unique stories and experiences to shape that narrative."

"The Republican Spanish-language response was a unique opportunity for me to address the concerns facing our nation as a whole while also sharing my own story and experiences that help shape my personal priorities in Congress," Curbelo said Wednesday. "The Republican leadership should be applauded for encouraging us to speak on these diverse issues."

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus discussed the differences on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Wednesday. "I don't think it's that strange to have multiple people giving multiple responses to the State of the Union," he said.

But Mother Jones reported that House Republicans initially said in a press release that Curbelo would be "delivering the Spanish-language translated address." The word "translated" no longer appears in that press release.

The only time an actual literal translation of a response was done was in 2013, when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) gave his speech in both Spanish and English, said Wadi Gaitan, press secretary for the House Republican Conference.

When Priebus was asked why the topic of immigration wasn't addressed in the English-language response, he said, "I think the president's kind of screwed things up in regard to immigration reform by overreaching, by taking his executive action."

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