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Can Habaneros Heat Up Hillary’s Bid?

Going auténtico might win some Texas votes.

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Was all the talk of Hillary Clinton’s jalapeño habit an effort to save her bid for the presidency? She unveiled the hot-pepper strategy to Katie Couric in early February, saying that eating them “keeps my metabolism revved up and keeps me healthy.” Campaigning for the must-win Texas primary, she talked about her habit at a San Antonio rally, too. Her spokesman, Jay Carson, insists it’s not some poll-tested grab for the Tex-Mex vote. “She eats all kinds of peppers, from jalapeños to habaneros to banana peppers,” he says. “She eats them regularly, at pretty much every meal. I’ve never seen a pepper too hot for her.” Still, “it will definitely help her,” says Gretchen Van Esselstyn, editor-in-chief of Chile Pepper magazine, a bi-monthly about “the zesty life” with a big readership in Texas. “In the Southwest and Texas, people think of it as all-American.” One Clintonista sees no harm in a chile-based Texas campaign: “Any strategy right now is a good strategy.”

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