In an unusual move, five Republican presidential candidates are boycotting a debate planned by Univision in January. Their position mainly reflects disdain toward the Latino community, which affects the party’s efforts to obtain Hispanic support.
The decision was provoked by a dispute between Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and the TV network because of a report about his in-laws, and an alleged offer by Univision to soften the report in exchange for an interview with the senator. Given the argument, three Republican state lawmakers asked the presidential candidates not to participate in the debate until Univision issues an apology and fires the president of news.
It is not unusual for a politician to have differences with a media outlet. What is rare is for this to trigger a reaction that has candidates questioning the outlet’s coverage and ethics, and deciding they won’t participate in a debate sponsored by the network. When it comes to bickering and coverage discussions, the presidential candidates could have questioned debates other networks organized in the past. However, they only did it with Univision.
We condemn the attitude of candidates Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachman, who assumed positions in other people’s fights that have nothing to do with them. It is unacceptable to take advantage of differences between a local politician and a network and refuse to debate before the national Latino electorate.
This decision could be a sign of support for Rubio, who seems like a likely vice presidential candidate. It could also be an excuse to avoid expressing positions-such as a hard line on immigration-that are unpopular among Latinos but that the party’s conservative base supports.
In any case, the lack of respect for the Latino public these Republican candidates are showing is outrageous. At the same time, their boycott of the Univision debate makes it clear they are not interested in communicating with these voters. This snub is a serious mistake they will pay for later at the polls.