Sometimes presidential hopefuls like to throw a little Spanish into their campaign speeches in an effort to court Latino voters, but for candidates who are not fluent, this can be a risky move. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton took that chance Thursday while in San Antonio, and joined a list of politicians whose attempts backfired in front of Spanish-speaking crowds.
"Yo estoy contigo," Clinton told the "Latinos for Hillary" rally. "That's a promise." Her campaign then tweeted the quote to her official Twitter account. She meant to say "Estoy contigo" ("I am with you"). The "yo" was redundant.
New York Daily News reporter Cameron Joseph tweeted about Clinton's mangling of the phrase. "Hillary Clinton makes me feel so much better about my own gringo accent," he tweeted.
.@HillaryClinton, making me feel so much better about my own gringo accent: "“Yo estoy contigo. That’s a promise.”
— Cameron Joseph (@cam_joseph) October 15, 2015
This is not Clinton's first slip-up in Spanish. The launch of her Spanish-language website was initially filled with errors. Before it was corrected, the site had "grammatical errors and clumsy phrasing, as if run through Google Translate," according to Fusion.
"Yo estoy contigo. That's a promise." —Hillary #LatinosForHillary
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 15, 2015
“Speaking Spanish doesn’t make up for the fact that many Republicans are working to tear Latino families apart," Xochitl Hinojosa, director of Clinton’s Coalition Press, told Fusion in an email. “Hillary Clinton has fought and will continue to fight for Latinos by supporting policies that would keep families together and ensure that Latinos have access to good-paying jobs.”
When she was a presidential candidate in 2008, Clinton said "Si, se pueda," instead of "Si, se puede," ("Yes, it can be done"), according to the New York Times. The slogan was made popular by Cesar Chavez in the 1960s.
"Clinton does not usually speak in Spanish as she makes overtures to Hispanic voters, and now we have evidence of why," New York Times reporter Patrick Healy wrote at the time.
But Clinton is not alone when it comes to Spanish blunders on the campaign trail. Even if candidates are grammatically correct, they can sometimes take on a bad accent, which can also be offensive to Latino voters.
While on the campaign trail in 2008, President Barack Obama told voters in San Antonio, "We're having a little siesta out here - a little party." In Spanish, "siesta" means nap. Obama meant to say the word "fiesta" for party.
Mitt Romney's Spanish-language site launched during his 2012 presidential run was slammed for its "clunky" language. "Obviously from an inside baseball perspective, I could nitpick at some of the language," wrote a U.S. News and World Report columnist.
Latinos are a critical voting bloc in the 2016 race -- one that could influence the general election. Clinton also participated in a question-and-answer session Thursday at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio.