Activist Nick Espinosa confronted Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer on immigration again today, this time at the Minnesota Children’s Forum debate. Espinosa is this year’s prominent actor of political theater. On June 14 he dropped $20 worth of pennies on Emmer at the Ol’ Mexico Restaurant to highlight the plight, and low pay, of immigrant restaurant workers.
Today, 40 minutes into the debate, as Emmer was criticizing Independent Party candidate Tom Horner’s budget, Espinosa walked on stage and approached Emmer to hand him a “Dora the Explorer” doll with its string already pulled and talking away. To his credit, Democratic candidate Mark Dayton jumped out of his chair and tried to take the doll away from Espinosa, then stood in front of Emmer to shield him from the TV cameras. The doll still ended up in Emmer’s lap. Emmer laughed it off : “That one was better than the pennies,” he said once the debate resumed, and rather adroitly resumed his criticism of Horner’s budget.
I asked to see the doll afterwards, to film it, but no one seemed to know what had become of “Dora the Explorer.” Later, I found Espinosa outside the Children’s Museum. I took him indoors for an interview — away from the jack hammer outside — and asked Espinosa about his message. During our chat, a man who had witnessed the debate confronted Espinosa and tore into the activist’s stance on immigration.