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August 8, 2022

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Jon Ralston:

What might Kihuen and Titus say?

Welcome to the first of our series of debates in Congressional District One where a white woman, Dina Titus, is running against a Hispanic man, Ruben Kihuen.

Kihuen: “Excuse me, but I think it’s very inappropriate for you to bring up race.”

Titus: “I see you don’t mind that he called me a woman. Guess what? Neither do I. And you brought race into this, señor.”

Kihuen: “Señor? That was nasty, congresswoman. Or should I call you senator? Or professor? Or civil rights commissioner? You sure have been around awhile on the public dole.”

Titus: “Well, at least when I was raking in all that money at UNLV, I was doing something for it. I taught students. Whatever you were doing over there at the community college was so important they got rid of your job after you left.”

Kihuen: “That’s because I had completed my mission — to diversify the student body. You can say, “gracias,” professor — that is, if you know what it means.”

Titus: “You can take your ‘gracias’ and … (pauses). As I said, you brought race into this.”

Kihuen: “Yes, I am proud of my race, which, by the way, is Hispanic. I am Hispanic. Hispanic. Why do you have a problem with that, professor?”

Titus: “I don’t. What I have a problem with is that’s all you have. I would suggest that you show us a list of your legislative accomplishments, but I don’t think there’s a piece of paper that small.”

Kihuen: “About as big a piece of paper as it would take to list the number of times you were able to unite Democrats to get a majority in the state Senate. I’m a minority — Hispanic, that is — but you are really an expert on being in the minority. Some leadership.”

Titus: “Let me explain how the legislative process works, young man. You may not be familiar with the concept because no legislation has your name on it and you chaired a committee that didn’t do anything and was created just so you could have a platform. You have to sponsor important bills. I did that. You didn’t.”

Kihuen: “Well, one thing I did that you didn’t, senator: I cared. I care. I care a lot, in fact. I don’t think you care. You are not caring, as I am.”

Titus: “Yeah, you care about Hispanics. What about the rest of the world? What have you done for Latinos anyhow? I was there in Carson City and I was on the Civil Rights Commission. And, yes, I care, too — I care that you think your race is enough.”

Kihuen: “Hey, I got a token female and some African-Americans, too. Be fair. And the Civil Rights Commission? You were there for a cup of coffee, a resting place for you until you decided where you could run next. And when you were in Washington, our people came to you about illegal immigration and you were reluctant to sponsor the DREAM Act. Maybe that’s why they are with me now.”

Titus: Oh. Yes. That must be the reason Hispanic leaders are with you. Nothing to do with the fact that you are …”

Kihuen: “Hispanic? Yes. Yes, I am.”

Titus: “Exactly. I have supported minority causes my entire career, which spans decades. And you know it. In fact, you knew that when you were a surrogate for me. And now you want people to believe you changed because I didn’t meet some litmus test?”

Kihuen: “Litmus test? You were so afraid of losing to Joe Heck that you played both sides, pretending to be against immigration reform before you were for it, just as you did with health care reform. We knew what you were doing. And look what happened. You lost, I believe. Right?”

Titus: “Barely. But I put up a good fight. What have you fought for?”

Kihuen: “For my community. The Hispanic community, in case you forgot.”

Titus: “Oh, really? The culinary union, which created you, has not even endorsed you. Why?”

Kihuen: “Patience. There is still a year to go and my labor brothers will see who the best candidate is. I noticed Sen. Reid, who worked with you in Washington, doesn’t seem thrilled with you. Where’s his endorsement?”

Titus: “I never needed Harry before and I don’t need him now. If you want to be used by him, that’s your call.”

Kihuen: “That is offensive. I am not being used. Just because Sen. Reid hooked me up with my media and polling firms doesn’t mean I am in his debt. It just means he thinks I’m a great candidate. A great Hispanic candidate.”

Titus: “My goodness. Is that all you got?”

Kihuen: “With all due respect, professor, it’s all I need.”

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