Louisiana senator criticised for ‘vulgar and racist’ comment about Mexicans eating cat food
A Republican senator found his own efforts to paint himself as a reasonable moderate under question by none other than Fox News on Wednesday.
Speaking on Your World with Neil Cavuto, Louisiana’s John Kennedy found himself in the hot seat and facing a line of questioning about an off-colour remark he had made about the state of Mexico’s economy, wherein he had suggested that people in the country would be reduced to eating pet food were it not for US foreign aid.
Mr Kennedy’s original remark had been made during a Senate hearing.
“Without the people of America, Mexico, figuratively speaking, would be eating cat food out of a can and living in a tent behind an Outback [Steakhouse restaurant],” said the senator.
The remark was insulting to say the least, given the US’s close relationship with Mexico’s government and the fact that the bulk of the US aid to Mexico is centred around the issue of helping the country deal with a constant, massive stream of US-bound migrants, most of whom actually begin their journeys elsewhere in Central or South America.
The country also remains plagued by drug cartels whose power in some areas rivals that of the federal government; those cartels are fueled by buyers in the United States and elsewhere.
Mexico’s ambassador to the United States had previously denounced Mr Kennedy’s remark as “vulgar and racist”.
On Wednesday, Cavuto grilled Mr Kennedy over whether he should apologise, and whether the remark undermined his efforts to paint himself as apart from what he called the “loony” far-right and far-left wings of the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively.
“You know, Senator, you mentioned the loon wings in each party. As you know, Democrats have been coming out and pouncing on your remarks regarding Mexico in which you said without us, the Mexicans ‘would be eating cat food out of a can and living in a tent behind an Outback.’”
.@SenJohnKennedy joins Neil to address criticism of his comment on Mexico pic.twitter.com/kPkpMDBXsO
— Neil Cavuto (@TeamCavuto) May 17, 2023
“Well, I love the people of Mexico,” Mr Kennedy responded. “I hate the cartels. President [Andres Manuel] Lopez Obrador, who is the president of Mexico, he ran on a slogan with respect to the cartels of ‘hugs not bullets.’ Well, that’s not working out too well for him.”
Mr Cavuto continued to press him on whether the original remarks were a mistake, and whether he should have offered that more nuanced explanation to begin with.
He also questioned whether Mr Kennedy had a response to those, including the ambassador, who accused him of denigrating the Mexican people.
“I would say that’s not true,” the senator shot back.
The US is currently faced with the effects of the end of Title 42, a legal authority that the federal government used throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to expel or deny entry to large numbers of immigrants seeking asylum. Illegal border crossings continue in high numbers, though Department of Homeland Security officials say that an initial spike that coincided with Title 42’s end is subsiding.