Five Republican candidates -- including Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Perry -- have pulled out of a Univision debate in January. Why? Allegedly it is because of a comment the head of the blockbuster Spanish-language channel made to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's people while attempting to blackmail the senator into participating in an interview.
But this is really a bunch of crap.
Perry is horribly vulnerable on immigration issues, having screwed up in Orlando during a recent debate before a straw poll. (See the video below.) He actually sounded as if he liked immigrants. Or at least he sounded horribly conflicted, damn him!
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Romney and Huntsman have nothing to lose. Neither candidate -- both of whom are Mormons -- is particularly immigrant-friendly (though neirther is horribly hostile either.)
In the Univision debate, both men would face questions about the decreasing number of Mormon converts to the church. This rate began falling after Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce -- also a Mormon -- proposed and spearheaded the draconian immigration law that has taken the country by storm, most recently in the passage of a similar measure in Alabama.
It can't hurt for any of the Republicans to suck up to Rubio either. The guy has a future with the party and has shown himself to be a slick player ever since taking office.
Univision has denied the reports, started in brilliant fashion by El Nuevo Herald editor Manny Garcia and Miami Herald reporter Marc Caputo. They said Univision execs had tried to get Rubio to appear on the Univision show Al Punto by threatening a report about a 24-year-old crime by Rubio's brother-in-law, Orlando Cicilia.
The network eventually aired that report to little fanfare.
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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.