New York, New York – The bipartisan press conference in Washington unveiling a new immigration reform proposal suddenly became a bitter competition between senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
The contest was not over who laid out the best plan, or who gave the best speech. The Latino senators, both Cuban-American, set off a Twitter war over who spoke the best Spanish.
Menendez and Rubio apparently caught cable news networks and viewers off guard when they both translated their long-winded speech in their native Spanish tongue. It was a rare Washington press conference for politicians to speak off cue and in a foreign language.
And it set off a firestorm in social media.
"If Rubio runs, the Dem better speak Spanish. Being bilingual will be a requirement for all presidential candidates soon," tweeted Rob Waldeck.
But Rubio and Menendez were not the only senators who wanted to show off their Spanish skills. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) ended the press conference with a loud “Vamonos!” And Senator Mark Warner (R-VA) took to Twitter to speak his mind on the matter – in Spanish.
“Animado por el anuncio bipartidista sobre una #reformamigratoriaintegral. El momento para hacer esto una realidad ha llegado,” the senator tweeted.
He then wrote the same message in English: “Encouraged by bipartisan consensus on comprehensive #immigrationreform. Looking forward to POTUS speech tomorrow.”
But not everybody appreciated the sudden switch to Spanish. Some non-Spanish speaking viewers felt lost.
But others warned that the bilingual press conference is the future of Washington pressers.
“Bilingual pressers sound weird now, but reporters in 2033 will wonder why we found them confusing,” tweeted
The cable networks apparently let the enthusiastic bilingual senators go on in Spanish for a few minutes, but then decided to cut them off.
“…Very disappointing that you interrupt #immigration conference while Sen. Menendez begins to speaks to Spanish followers,” tweeted Daniel Delgado.
The bipartisan immigration reform proposal by eight of the U.S. Senate’s most influential members – four Republicans and four Democrats -- was unveiled during the press conference.
The bipartisan proposal pivots on four pillars, according to a statement put out by the senators. They include: creating a path to eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants, reforming the legal immigration system to address needs “in the American economy and strengthen American families,” creating an employment verification system to crack down on hiring of undocumented workers and revamp the guest worker program.