Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and John Huntsman, are boycotting a proposed Univision debate due to what they say were unethical journalistic practices in the way the Spanish-language media giant handled Sen. Marco Rubio, a vice-presidential shortlister.
Other campaigns might soon join Perry and Huntsman, sources say.
They made their announcement 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 Perry, Huntsman and Romney apparently believed the reports from Rubio’s office and the Univision insiders, which were first revealed in a Sunday Miami Herald story.
“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.
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."