Bill Richardson: Ted Cruz should not ‘be defined as a Hispanic’

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), a leading Hispanic voice in the Democratic Party, said Sunday that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) shouldn't be considered a Hispanic.

Asked in a web interview with ABC's "This Week" whether Cruz represents most Hispanics, Richardson said the senator does not. Then he went a step further and suggests Cruz himself shouldn't be labeled as Hispanic.

"He's anti-immigration. Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform," Richardson said. "I don't think he should be defined as a Hispanic."

Cruz's father is Cuban, and his mother is white.

The governor added that Cruz's conduct has been beneath his office.

"I've seen him demean the office, be rude to other senators, not be part of, I think, the civility that is really needed in Washington," Richardson said.

Richardson added: "I'm not a fan. I know he's sort of the Republican latest flavor. He's articulate. He seems to be charismatic. But I don't like his politics."

While Richardson had tough words for Cruz, on the regular "This Week" program Democratic strategist James Carville praised Cruz's political skills, calling him "the most talented and fearless Republican politician I've seen in the last 30 years."

Updated at 12:01 p.m. Tuesday: Richardson said in a subsequent interview with Fox News that his comments were misunderstood.

"I said that he shouldn’t be defined as a Hispanic," Richardson said. "I’m a Hispanic and I don’t define myself as just as a Hispanic. So, that was misinterpreted.”

He added: "We disagree on immigration, but all I was saying is I don’t consider myself just a Hispanic and he shouldn’t be defined just as a Hispanic. We’re other things. That’s what I said.”

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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Aaron Blake · May 6, 2013