MSNBC host Chris Matthews wondered Wednesday night whether Hispanic Republicans Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R., Texas) were actually Hispanic, calling them "Cuban nationals."
Matthews made the comments on Hardball while discussing Cruz's potentially attacking Rubio over his prior support for immigration reform. Rubio and Cruz have established themselves as top contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
"Is he trying to insinuate that Marco Rubio, a fellow Spanish surname–I'm not sure the right word is Hispanic for them," Matthews said. "Because they are Cuban nationals or whatever, or come from Cuba. But, uh, is he going to insinuate that he's still basically for what he calls amnesty?"
Neither Rubio nor Cruz was born in Cuba. Rubio was born in Miami, Florida, to Cuban immigrants, while Cruz, whose father is also from Cuba, was born in Canada. He later renounced his Canadian citizenship when he decided to run for president.
Matthews has shown a predilection for discomfort with non-white Republicans while covering the 2016 race. He laughed at a Latina Republican guest who said she felt "at home" as a member of the Republican Party. He also referred to Rubio as "cute" in a pre-debate commentary.
Matthews' remarks are also curious given his hypersensitivity regarding matters of race on his program, frequently referring to any critics of President Obama's agenda as racist. In 2013, the conservative media monitoring site NewsBusters, which also flagged Matthews' remarks about Cruz and Rubio Wednesday, compiled the 20 worst quotes where Matthews demagogued Obama opponents as racially biased.