Is Tim Kaine's Spanish Resonating With Northern Nevadans?

Sep 29, 2016

First year UNR student Evelyn Galvan.
Credit Jennifer Gallagher

Senator Tim Kaine has been speaking both English and Spanish while campaigning as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. When he recently stopped in Reno for a rally, attendees were surprised that he did not use those bilingual skills.

Kaine did discuss several issues important to the Latino community, including immigration and women’s healthcare, but attendees like Evelyn Galvan would have welcomed the use of Spanish as well. Galvan is a freshman at the University of Nevada, Reno, and a fluent Spanish speaker whose parents emigrated from Guadalajara, Mexico.

“I think that’s a very good way to connect with, get the Latino group to support you,” she says. “He can reach out to people who can’t speak English and tell them his policies and his ideas.”

For those still learning Spanish like Amanda Buell, a UNR graduate student in Latin American studies, Kaine’s efforts have made an impact.

UNR graduate student Amanda Buell.
Credit Jennifer Gallagher

“While he may not be Latino himself and he may not fully understand Spanish culture or Mexican culture, the fact that he’s trying and that he’s valuing those members of our population and that part of our culture, I think it’s actually really commendable,” Buell says.

Others like UNR student Cameron Cody are not impressed.

“I do feel it can be a handicap for an individual that is in America that only speaks Spanish due to the fact that we are a predominantly English-speaking country,” he says.

UNR student Cameron Cody.
Credit Jennifer Gallagher

Kaine did speak Spanish after the rally when he met community members at Carnicería Tejaro, a Mexican restaurant in north Reno.

This report was produced in partnership with Noticiero Móvil, a Spanish-English multimedia news outlet for Northern Nevada.