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Herman, Cain, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney to boycott Univision debate over Rubio report

Five Republican presidential candidates are boycotting a proposed Univision debate due to allegations that the Spanish-language media giant tried to strongarm Sen. Marco Rubio, a vice-presidential shortlister, with a controversial story about a relative.

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, tentatively scheduled for two days before Florida's Jan. 31 primary.

The five made their separate announcements throughout the day at the behest 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.

Univision has called the allegations of a quid-pro-quo “absurd,” and said that the July story of the 24-year-old drug bust was reported fairly and accurately.

But the five candidates apparently believed the reports from Rubio’s office and the Univision insiders, which were first revealed in a Sunday Miami Herald story. The five other candidates, including Florida straw poll winner Herman Cain, couldn't be reached.

“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 Univision on Tuesday.

“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,” Perry wrote.

Late Tuesday, Cain's campaign issued a statement through Longwood state Rep. Scott Plakon who said: "They're out. Until Univision resolves this, he won't participate in the debate like the other candidates."

Huntsman’s campaign manager, Matt David, was more measured in his letter to Univision. But he said the candidate stands firm.

“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,” he wrote. “We ask the other Republican candidates to join us in this decision and will work with them to identify another forum to debate issues that are important to Americans of Hispanic descent in Florida and across our nation.”

Romney didn't write a letter to Univision, but issued a statement from spokesman Ryan Williams that 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 to the news media.

"This issue was brought to Michele's attention and she has a great deal of respect for Senator Rubio," Stewart wrote. "We reserve our right to participate in the Univision debate pending a positive resolution of this matter by Univision."

Ana Navarro, a top Florida field director with Huntsman’s campaign and friend of Rubio, had contacted Univision in July in an effort to have the station stop the story of the drug arrest of Orlando Cicilia in 1987, when Rubio was 16.

Navarro said the old drug arrest and Cicilia’s subsequent incarceration didn’t merit two days of Univision coverage because it was an old report, had no current news value and involved such a distant relative of Rubio.

Three of Rubio’s friends and political allies – U.S. Rep. David Rivera, state House leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and Miami-Dade Republican Chairman Erik Fresen – called Monday for the Univision boycott in a letter to the Republican National Committee and the campaigns.

“This attempt at extorting a respected Republican elected official like Senator Rubio, who is also a proud American of Hispanic descent, is offensive and unacceptable,” they wrote.

They called for Univision to apologize and to fire its news president, Isaac Lee, who was accused of offering the quid-pro-quo deal to Rubio. Lee has repeatedly denied the charge.

"We respectfully decline your request to issue a public apology or to request the resignation of our President of News, Mr. Isaac Lee. Lost in the inflammatory language being used by you is the that our story was truthfully and accurately reported," Univision said in a written statement issued before midnight Monday.

“More importantly, Univision takes exception to the false assertion that it attempted to ‘extort’ Senator Rubio in any way, shape or form,” the statement said. “At no point in time did anyone from Univision offer to kill or soften the story regarding Senator Rubio’s brother-in-law in exchange for appearing on any Univision news program."

Still, the controversy has proved problematic for Univision. The subject came up in a Tuesday meeting between Univision president Cesar Conde, the Republican National Committee’s chairman, Reince Priebus, and Co-Chair Sharon Day. Day, who's trying to increase Republican outreach to Hispancis, said the meeting was already scheduled. She confirmed that the subject of Rubio and the debate came up, but she declined to elaborate.

Lopez-Cantera, a Perry backer, said he was pleased that the Republican candidates decided to send a message to Univision.

"This type of behavior is unacceptable," he said, "and will not be tolerated by our leaders."


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Pailine Ruiz

The Washington Post has recently contended that Rubio is a "caricature" and a "sell out" to the Hispanic community and that said Hispanic community doesn't seem to be overwhelmingly happy with Rubio at the moment.

Is this a way for the Hispanic community to get back at Rubio for turning his back to them?


I think the Washington is a bit removed from Florida in order to make such a comment of this freshly elected Senator.

Rubi enjoys all the support in the world from the "conservative community" whom ever they happen to be. He has no support from illegal immigrants or those who support illegal immigration.


Univisions tactics called 'strongarmed'

Republicans refusal to appear unless they get their way is called what?

Manuel Rueda

Sounds like they're all trying to outdo each other, in who "protects" Rubio the most. The candidates have the right not to participate in the univision debate. But for some of them to ask the network to fire its news chief, sounds to me a bit like what they'd do in a banana-republic. The big winner here, Telemundo, the audience for it's presidential debate will go up.

Mario Faz

Since Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas have in their agenda as number one point to soften ilegal inmigration policy on his fellow mexicans that cross the border ilegally and press on to obtain an irrestricted legalization with a clear political agenda they were indeed the force behind the Univision management. They tried to force Senator Rubio in to the talk show to gain points for the Obama and the whole democratic political agenda. Is there other explanation to this?


This plays into the democrats' hands. They would rather them not appear on Univision.

Jose Biden

What possible motivation could there be to give such attention to an irrelevancy such as a relative of a politician doing something wrong a couple of decades ago? What is the news value of that?

And more importantly, could there be any motivation that would justify such a hatchet job other than as a partisan act?

The press used to be able to get away with such things in the run-up to an election season. That is not the case anymore. Univision needs to fire Lee whether there was a quid pro quo or not just for wasting everyone's time.

BTW, in news that actually matters pictures surfaced today of Obama marching with and sharing a lectern with the Black Panthers in the last election. If a white candidate had been caught doing likewise with a racial supremacist group it would be all over the news.

If Univision wants to be taken seriously as something other than a propaganda outlet it should cover that story.


"He has no support from illegal immigrants or those who support illegal immigration."

Are illegal immigrants and the co-conspirators who aid and abet a major voting block for this Senator to pursue?

Or, please consider whether the "conservative community" includes millions of Hispanic people, whatever their views on the wedge issue of the day. It is OK for Democrats and others on the Left to be afraid of broad conservatism in Hispanic homes and communities. Their supporters in the media are.


Actually Obama was photographed campaigning with one of the Black Panthers who was convicted of civil rights violations for "patrolling" a voting station in Philly with a night stick. The charges were dismissed, right after Obama was elected, over the career prosecutor's objections, and after the conviction was made!

Try reading about this and the other Obama DOJ scandals in the media.


I enjoy reading the comments deriding the Republicans for refusing to debate until this is resolved, at least they have a reason and are willing to try and resolve it, unlike the Democrats, who refused to debate on Fox News, just because they might get asked a tough question.

With Republicans little good can come from debating on the alphabet networks or Univision, since they all have an agenda, to assist, in anyway possible, the re-election campaign of President Obama. Republicans at least have the guts to do the debates anyway and I'm sure they will do what they can to resolve this issue too.

Greg Q


What the Republicans are doing is called "retribution for wrong-doing." It's also called "justice". I realize that, as a Democrat, you probably don't believe in such things. But now at least you've heard about them.

R Current

Looks like six to me. Who is Herman?


This is all the left has. Character assassination. If they can't play the race card, they'll dig up some tangential connection to a relative arrested when the candidate was 16. How pathetic. And predictable. Screw the left and their toadies in the media like Univision and its political activists masquerading as journalists. Nobody with half a brain is buying what they're selling anymore. The WAPO, NYT, LAT and the rest have all been exposed for the leftist organs they are. Their refusals to hold this administration accountable for scandals from the Black Panther voter intimidation case to Solyndra to Operation Gunrunner and Fast and Furious, they have abdicated any claim to being "objective" news sources and Univision is cut from the same cloth.


I would really like to see more headlines like this that say "GOP candidates agree", "candidates *all* say that Obama is a failure", etc.

They all have great ideas and one of them needs to head the team that tries to get the Obama "car" out of the swamp *he* drove it into. There will plenty of work for them *all* to do so I suggest from the next debate they all agree to live by Reagan's 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt not Speak Ill of Fellow Republicans. Then, spend your time talking about your great ideas and how Obama made it worse. If the moderator tries to do Gotcha's on questions that only harm the GOP, say we don't play that game any more and move on.

The voters can then decide who is best and if you don't get the nomination that is the way the cookie crumbles. If any one of the candidates won't play this way, vote them off the island.

Time for the adults to take back control.


Pailine Ruiz, you do not speak for the Hispanic community. Only liberals and those that profit from keeping Latinos in poverty allege Rubio has "turned his back on them", and they'd be right.


What's so pathetic about this lame Univision story that aired for two days is not only that it happened 24 years ago, but that this "relative" is not even a blood-relative. He's the brother of Rubio's Colombian wife. I don't even think that Rubio knew his wife when this happened.

Seriously, Univision has got to come better than that. What a lousy news network. How unprofessional and unethical.

Caridad Pineiro

It's truly amazing how the Liberals fear Marco Rubio and Herman Cain because they have proven that you do not have to be a victim in America. They have demonstrated that the American Dream is alive and that hard work leads to success no matter your race or ethnicity. As for the Obama/Black Panther story, I'd be surprised to see that on Univision or any other liberally-biased outlet. They will never admit that they made a poor choice when they engineered the Nation's first media-elected President.


"Republicans refusal to appear unless they get their way is called what?"


Jeff Jefferson

You just know that the left will try to spin this as "Republicans just don't care about Hispanic voters."

julio zelaya

When you are the leading communications company servicing the Hispanic-American, and the Latin American communities, you are going to be the target of calculated politically motivated accusations. Anything to accomplish a little damage control for the tea-party/Republican party. What can Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, or Mitchell Beckmann possibly offer the Latino community considering that the principal constituency of the tea-party is composed of folks who love to use the issues of immigration and race relations as a scapegoat, a polarizing tool, one that announces a message of inequality, hate and destruction. These Tea-party candidates boycotting Univision’s viewers, well over 15 million on a daily basis, are doing it for the same reason senator Rubio of Florida boycotted Al Punto, the number one news show on Sundays in any Spanish programming network in the USA. They simply don't have anything good to say about or to the Hispanic community. Back in the late 17th century in America there were many blacks who owned slaves themselves. Called "free persons of color", these people were cronies with the white slave owners of the times and should one of them come across a poor black slave girl trying to run away, they wouldn't hesitate turning her into the authorities and back to the shackles. That is what Rubio and the some GOP elected officials in Florida best represent to the Hispanic community. Who cares that Tea Party candidates won't get to propagate their message of gloom and hate for Hispanics? I for one will not lose any sleep over this.

Jeff Jefferson

Notice how you say that the tea party uses race as a polarizing tool, and then spend the rest of your post using race as a polarizing tool. Tea Partiers are not anti-immigration: they are anti-illegal immigration. Like most accusations that come from the left, yours are projection.

Dotar Sojat

Remember that Univision's business success depends on haveing a large viewing audience that does not speak English. They are in league with MeCha and La Raza to establish a broad swath of the Southwest US dominated by a non-English speaking population. Of course it opposes Rubio's stance on illegal immigration.

julio zelaya

Race is a pivitol issue once again in America because the extreme right, Tea-Party, has an agenda filled with projects and laws to minimize the influence of Hispanics and minorities in American politics. Back in the 80's, I voted several times for Republican candidates, mostly President Ronal Regan. Back then, there were no Republicans proposing and enacting unfair laws that basically set up Hispanics for a legal but immoral form of racial profiling by authorithies. I believe in safe and secure borders for USA, but the rich plantation owners of Alabama, Arizona, and other states that have encacted Nuremberg type laws, all under current GOP leadership, will face formidable opposition, specially from Hispanics who do not feel like being used as uncle toms by tea-party politicians.




As a Hispanic American citizen I can say that Univision just want to keep a large audience of illegals to exploit, offering them high fees debit cards made for Hispanics that are afraid to have banks accounts to don't pay taxes, and overpriced products for sale that have for target non English speakers. Hispanic people don't have other option that be misinformed by the mafia that controls that broadcasting company.
I'm not that stupid to vote democrat in this moment to help Obama to legalize millions of people that are out of the law and give them a prize when I wait for ten years to get my citizenship legally, also all that folks are going to apply for the same jobs that we need in in this moment. It is pure logic, sorry guys this time I go republican.

juan el cubano

Someone posted that Rubio is a sell out to the hispanic community, untrue! A lot Cubans in Florida are Republican,Small Business owners, which support the conservative views. As for Univision, theyve been dropping the ball lately!! Telemundo should make out like a champ!! Univision fires Cuban Icon, and Award winning Host Christina Saralegui, Telemundo instantly picks her show up and it boosts their ratings, now Telemundo gets the debate, Telemundo is making moves!! lol Univision needs to stop lettin their liberal views, blind them of proper ethics, just to slam a conservative!!!

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