Politics

The Most Awkward Interview Of This Presidential Campaign, So Far

Also: It took more than a week for anyone to notice.

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On April 30, Bloomberg Politics' Mark Halperin interviewed Ted Cruz.

The interview started out relatively normal, then Halperin began quizzing Cruz about his Cuban heritage, including questions "You got a favorite Cuban food, Cuban dish?" and "Do you have a favorite Cuban singer?" and asking him to welcome Bernie Sanders into the presidential race "en Español."

But nothing really happened after the interview! Besides Rush Limbaugh, no one on the internet seems to have noticed this happened for... nine days.

On Saturday, in the Mercury News, Ruben Navarrette tore into the interview:

Nothing wrong with that. But then Halperin made it personal, and the interview careened into a ditch. He told Cruz that people are curious about his "identity." Then, the host asked a series of questions intended to establish his guest's Hispanic bona fides. What kind of Cuban food did Cruz like to eat growing up? And what sort of Cuban music does Cruz listen to even now?

I've known Ted for more than a decade and I could tell he was uncomfortable. But he played along, listing various kinds of Cuban food and saying that his musical taste veers more toward country.

I kept waiting for Halperin to ask Cruz to play the conga drums like Desi Arnaz while dancing salsa and sipping cafe con leche -- all to prove the Republican is really Cuban.

And then politics Twitter responded with #HalperinQuestions:

"Mr. Kennedy, if you are indeed the first Irish Catholic president, chug this bottle of Jamesons and eat a potato." #HalperinQuestions

Would you be a peach and roll a cigar for me, Senator? #halperinquestions

Sen Webb, when with your W. Va Scots Irish clan you often fiddle, drink moonshine and punch outsiders, right? #HalperinQuestions

#HalperinQuestions Sen. Sanders, could you put on this yarmulke and then dance the horah to welcome Ted Cruz into the Presidential race?

#halperinquestions "Sen Cruz, please say Luuuuuuucy!!! for me? We need to be sure."

"Im curious about your Jewish heritage Sen. Sanders. List ur top 3 Jackie Mason jokes & ur fav 3 Seinfeld episodes" http://t.co/RHRI1ugzG7 …

On Monday, Halperin apologized for the interview in a written statement:

"We wanted to talk with Senator Cruz about his outreach to Latino voters the day after he spoke at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. My intent was to give the Senator a chance to speak further about his heritage and personal connections to the community through some casual questions. I rushed through the questions, and that was a mistake — it led to poor tone and timing. I also understand why some felt the questions were inappropriate. As for asking Senator Cruz to welcome Senator Sanders to the race in Spanish, that was meant to be the type of light-hearted banter that he's done with us before on the show. In no way was I asking Senator Cruz to 'prove' he was an 'authentic' Latino. I apologize to those that were offended, and to Senator Cruz. I promise that I will work to make the tone and questions better next time."

Katherine Miller is the political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Katherine Miller at katherine.miller@buzzfeed.com.

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