Eds: UPDATES: With context on Democrats and Latinos, Jill Biden giving Mexico’s first lady a tour of the Library of Congress on Tuesday. Adds hyperlink and contributor line. Minor edits. With AP Photos.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden apologized Tuesday for saying Latinos are “as unique” as San Antonio breakfast tacos during a speech to the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization.
“The first lady apologizes that her words conveyed anything but pure admiration and love for the Latino community,” tweeted Jill Biden’s spokesperson, Michael LaRosa.
The first lady flew to San Antonio on Monday to address the annual conference of UnidosUS, a Latino civil rights and advocacy group formerly known as the National Council of La Raza. She also spoke at a Democratic Party fundraiser at a private home before she returned to Washington.
But Biden’s attempt at a compliment floundered when she described Latino diversity “as distinct as the bodegas of the Bronx, as beautiful as the blossoms of Miami and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio.”
She also badly mispronounced “bodegas,” small stores in urban areas typically specializing in Hispanic groceries.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists and others registered their offense on social media, with the journalists’ organization tweeting that, “We are not tacos.”
“Using breakfast tacos to try to demonstrate the uniqueness of Latinos in San Antonio demonstrates a lack of cultural knowledge and sensitivity to the diversity of Latinos in the region,” NAHJ said.
The association said the first lady and her speechwriters should “take the time in the future to better understand the complexities of our people and communities.”
Hispanic voters generally favor Democrats, though the group’s support patterns vary widely in different parts of the U.S., and Latino support for the Democratic presidential candidate softened in 2020 compared to 2016, according to Pew Research Center data.
Some Democrats have suggested that the party isn’t working hard enough to maintain Hispanic support. In her speech, Jill Biden outlined how President Joe Biden has responded to the community, including by appointing Latinos to the Cabinet and other high government posts and helping them get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Separately, last month, Republican Mayra Flores won a special congressional election in a usually Democratic area of South Texas. Now completing a House term expiring in January, Flores is an avid Trump supporter and the first Mexican-born woman elected to Congress.
Jill Biden spent part of Tuesday showing Mexico’s first lady, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, around the Library of Congress while Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador was at the White House meeting with President Biden.
Associated Press writer Will Weissert contributed to this report.