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Texas Democrats To Debate In Spanish


February 28, 2002
Copyright © 2002
THE NEW YORK TIMES. All Rights Reserved.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- On the eve of their historic Spanish-language debate, the two Democratic candidates for governor of Texas continued to bicker about the format Thursday.

Dan Morales and Tony Sanchez have agreed to take part in a one-hour English debate in Dallas on Friday, and a one-hour Spanish debate later in the evening. Both will be televised.

It will be the first time candidates for governor of any state have debated in Spanish, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Hispanic leaders see the event as evidence as their growing political clout.

The primary is March 12. The winner faces Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

Morales, who tried unsuccessfully to get at least five debates in English, vowed to spend time during Friday's telecast translating his answers into English.

``The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the citizens of our state speak English,'' he said. ``That also applies to a significant number of Hispanic Texans.''

The candidates, who are both Mexican-Americans, had bickered for weeks about the format. Both had supported the idea of one debate in Spanish, but differed on how many English debates were needed.

``Mr. Sanchez's insistence that we basically elevate Spanish, the Spanish language, to an equal status with the English language in this race for governor of Texas is ill-advised,'' Morales said Thursday.

Sanchez said in a statement that his campaign ``has reached out to people in every community and my support reaches across all lines.''

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