The number of Republican presidential candidates who vow to boycott Univision’s GOP debate two days before Florida’s Jan. 31 primary has reached five, and the furor promises to increase before it subsides.
The boycott stems from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s allegation that the Spanish-language media giant tried to strongarm him into appearing on the network for an interview. If the Florida Republican did so, the network might not broadcast a story about a relative's decades-old drug conviction, according to a Miami Herald story Sunday that has propelled the controversy.
In a follow-up, the Herald’s Naked Politics blog
reports: “Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann all issued statements saying that Univision needed to make amends before they would appear at the debate.”
The five announced their decisions at the urging of three Florida Hispanic Republican lawmakers “who noted that the senator’s office and Univision insiders said Univision publicized an embarrassing story about Rubio’s brother in law because he wouldn’t sit down for an interview on the show Al Punto, which has espoused a liberal line on the hot-topic of immigration,” the Herald reported.
Despite what the insiders say, Univision denies the quid-pro-quo allegation, issuing a statement saying, in part, “At no point in time did anyone from Univision offer to kill or soften the story . . . . in exchange for [Rubio’s] appearing on any Univision news program."
“But the five candidates apparently believed the reports from Rubio’s office and the Univision insiders,” the Herald reported, which quoted statements from some of the candidates’ camps.
“Governor Perry will not consider participating in the January 29, 2012, Univision debate until your network addresses this ethical breach and takes action to correct it,” Perry’s communications director, Ray Sullivan, wrote to Univision.
“With NBC and Telemundo also hosting a debate the same weekend in January 2012, we will have ample opportunity to engage with Spanish-speaking Americans,” Sullivan wrote.
Late Tuesday, the Herald reported, Cain's campaign issued a statement declaring: "Until Univision resolves this, he won't participate in the debate like the other candidates."
Huntsman’s campaign manager, Matt David, stated: “Unless Univision resolves this issue in a timely and satisfactory manner, Governor Huntsman will not give consideration to your network’s debate currently proposed for January 2012.”
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said: "We have not received any invitation from Univision for a debate, but we are troubled by these allegations and would not participate in any such debate unless and until Univision satisfactorily addresses this situation."
Bachmann's spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, also issued a statement: "This issue was brought to Michele's attention and she has a great deal of respect for Senator Rubio. We reserve our right to participate in the Univision debate pending a positive resolution of this matter by Univision."
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