Rep. Bobby Schilling’s campaign is defending comments the congressman made in April in which he suggested some Hispanics don’t know their own language well enough, let alone English.
The comment, which Schilling’s campaign says was recorded secretly by a tracker for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has been put on YouTube.
During a discussion between Schilling and others about several issues, English as a second language came up as a topic.
Schilling said: “One of the biggest problems — you know, I’ve got some Hispanic friends — is that a lot of those folks that don’t know English is primarily because they don’t even know Spanish. They don’t even know their own language. So that’s why you’ve got these teachers coming in helping to try to get them better with their own language and then kind of teach them. It’s a pretty tough battle.”
The comment was first reported by the The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus.
Schilling spokesman Jon Schweppe suggested Tuesday that the congressman’s comments weren’t out of the ordinary.
“Congressman Schilling was clearly talking about what every freshman in high school taking Spanish 1 understands — you must first learn the fundamentals and proper grammar of your own language before learning a second language,” he said. “This is something any foreign language educator would tell you.”
The recording that is posted on YouTube does not show any visual images, just the audio recording. It is dated April 10 and is part of several recordings posted of Schilling.
It is a common practice in politics for the parties to follow candidates of the opposite party, particularly in targeted races such as the 17th District contest.