Romney, Perry and Huntsman Boycott January Univision Debate

GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman will boycott Univision’s debate in January, claiming the Spanish-language network engaged in unethical journalistic practices in regard to an interview request with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

In a letter to the Republican National Committee, three Florida Hispanic Republicans claimed the network attempted to extort an exclusive interview from Rubio in exchange for not airing a story about the arrest of Rubio’s brother-in-law in 1987. The Florida GOP leaders called for consequences from the national GOP and also asked the Republican presidential candidates not to participate in the Univision debate, scheduled for Jan. 29.

Huntsman and Perry sent letters to Univision informing the network they will not participate in the debate until the issue is addressed.

“Gov. Rick Perry and our team just learned of Univision’s attempt to unethically pressure a prominent Republican elected official to provide access to the station in return for Univision spiking or softening a story about a relative,” Ray Sullivan, communications director for Perry, wrote in a letter to Randy Falco, the CEO of Univision. ”Even in this time of ever-changing media techniques, Univision’s unethical tactics stand out. Univision’s heavy-handed behavior has no place in the political or public policy area.”

“Therefore, Gov. Perry will not consider participating in the Jan. 29, 2012, Univision debate until your network addresses this ethical breach and takes action to correct it.”

In a letter to Univision president Cesar Conde, Huntsman’s campaign manager Matt David wrote, “Unless Univision resolves this issue in a timely and satisfactory manner, Gov. Huntsman will not give consideration to your network’s debate currently proposed for January, 2012.”

“Univision Network plays an important role in the Hispanic community, so we hope you seek such resolution,” David continued. “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.”

Huntsman in August appointed Ana Navarro, a Miami GOP activist, to be the national Hispanic chairwoman of his campaign. That same day, President George W. Bush’s nephew, Jeb Bush Jr., who is the founder of SunPAC, Florida’s Hispanic political outreach group, announced his endorsement for the former governor.

The Romney campaign did not send a letter to Univision but expressed its concern about the incident in a statement.

“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,” Ryan Williams, a spokesman for Romney, said in a statement.

Rep. Michele Bachmann said she will participate in the debate depending on how Univision decides to resolve the matter with Sen. Rubio.

“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,” Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for Bachmann, said.

A spokesman for Herman Cain said they are still determining his involvement in the debate.

“We’re gathering the facts and reviewing the matter internally,” J.D. Gordon, spokesman for Cain, said.

A spokesman for Rubio had no comment on the issue.