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Chimichanga fight! A political war of words over Latino voters, the GOP and deep-fried burritos

Photo by Scorpions and Centaurs/Flickr (Creative Commons)

What's all this business with chimichangas today? It's the second-time that the Arizona-bred culinary weapon of mass destruction has made the political scene lately, but this latest go-round is miles from Phoenix.

The "Chimichanga Kerfuffle," as one conservative columnist has dubbed it, refers to the flap that has surrounded President Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina tweeting a chimichanga-related line from an opinion piece by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank. In the piece, about the GOP's trouble with Latino voters, Milbank quoted Arizona's Sen. John McCain:

“The lettuce in your salad this month almost certainly came from Arizona,” McCain said. “It’s also believed that the chimichanga has its origin in Arizona.”

Then Milbanks followed with the line:
The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos.

Which Messina (@Messina2012) tweeted as:

Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: "The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos."

Which has in turn prompted an outcry, from conservatives in particular. Like this tweet, from the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network (@HispanicLN):

How insulting and condescending, @Messina2012 must apologize immediately and Obama must disavow

Or this line from conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, coiner of the term "Chinichanga Kerfuffle," who wrote about what she sees as a double standard:

File under “What if a top-ranking GOP official had said this?”

The question is, if Latinos are being offered chimichangas, how many really want them? Blecch.

Now comes the chimichanga trivia: The calorie-laden deep fried burrito known as the chimi is, as it turns out, no culinary immigrant. Last fall I provided a bit of chimichanga history as some Arizonans were pushing legislators to make the chimichanga the official state dish:

Its invention is claimed by two Arizona restaurants, Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen in Phoenix, which started the petition drive, and the El Charro Cafe in Tucson, said to be the oldest continuously operating Mexican restaurant in the country. While it has Mexican relatives, the chimi is likely as American as apple pie and Tex-Mex.

Wherever it was invented, the native-born greasebomb is clearly well-loved. The (New York) Times story even cites the recent case of a convicted murderer who, upon ordering his last meal on Arizona’s death row, requested a double cheeseburger and fries – and a chimichanga.

Meanwhile, the Washington war of words continues to develop as more voices join in. Univision has a good tick-tock of the chimi fight as it evolves online. Buen provecho.