Two well known Miami political consultants got into a tiff on Spanish-language radio Friday over a conversation one of them had with President Barack Obama when he attended a fundraiser Thursday at the Biltmore Hotel.
Ana Navarro, a Republican, told WQBA-AM (1140) host Bernadette Pardo by phone that she had spoken to Obama for a few minutes Thursday about immigration reform. Navarro, who worked for John McCain in 2008, said Obama appeared relaxed and confident and joked he wanted her vote. She said she asked him why his administration has not advocated more strongly for Congress to change the country's immigration laws.
That prompted Democrat Freddy Balsera, who was on the other line, to accuse Navarro of making it seem as though she was calling out Obama on immigration after "intercepting" him and taking advantage of her relationship with Gene Prescott. Prescott, president of the company that operates the Biltmore, is Navarro's beau. The exchange turned heated, with Navarro and Balsera talking over each other until Pardo, the host, cut them off with a commercial break.
After the break, Pardo let Navarro and then Balsera speak separately about Obama's visit. Navarro said she did not "intercept" the president; the Secret Service had approved her presence (a fact she marveled at, saying in other countries, a vocal critic from the opposing party would likely not be allowed in the same room as the president). And she suggested Balsera was upset because he had not been a part of the conversation.
Balsera, for his part, said he hosted a luncheon for Hispanic donors that Obama attended before his speech at the fundraiser and praised the president's approach on energy, which Obama talked about earlier Thursday at the University of Miami. Balsera, who has advised Obama on Hispanic issues, later told The Miami Herald that Navarro should not have shared her conversation with the president on the radio.
"I think it is highly unethical and highly inappropriate for her to go out and report to the media her private conversation with the president," he said, especially given her party affiliation and relationship to Prescott, he added.
Countered Navarro: "I'm not going to react to Freddy Balsera. He means nothing to me. I would think that the White House would not be unhappy about a Republican like me saying positive things about the president on the radio."