Politicians want to appeal to a range of voters but Jeb Bush may have overreached chasing the Hispanic vote.
The New York Times has revealed that the former Florida governor identified himself as Hispanic in 2009.
It published a voter registration form where Mr Bush had marked “Hispanic” rather than “White, not Hispanic”.
On Twitter Mr Bush came clean, “My mistake! Don’t think I’ve fooled anyone!, after his son called him a “honorary Latino”.
The newspaper posted a fuzzy copy of the form, which it said it had obtained from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department.
The Bush camp said it was unclear how the error was made.
“The governor’s family certainly got a good laugh out of it,” spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said. “He is not Hispanic.”
The Republican politician has excellent credentials for his alternative ethnicity. He is a fluent Spanish speaker and his wife, Columba Bush, was born in Mexico. He also spent two years in Venezuela during his early twenties.
Born in Texas, Mr Bush is the brother of former US President George W Bush and son of former President George HW Bush. He is believed to be considering seeking the Republican nomination for president in the 2016 elections.
He is widely seen as a centrist Republican who can appeal to different demographics, hopefully including Hispanic voters.