Sunday, September 09, 2007

GOP candidates snub Univision


GOP candidates snub Univision
By: Gebe Martinez Sep 9, 2007 08:40 AM EST

When Fox News and other English-language television networks extended presidential debate invitations earlier this year, Republican and Democratic primary candidates
asked for the details.

But when Univision–the Spanish-language network with the top-rated local newscast in 16 media markets–scheduled an historic GOP debate on Latino issues for Sept. 16 in Miami, a week after a similar forum for Democrats,
Arizona Sen. John McCain accepted.

What’s worse, in the eyes of national Hispanic leaders and progressives who are keeping count, this is the third time in recent months that Republican presidential candidates have dissed the fastest-growing part of the electorate by passing up chances to address Latinos’ concerns about the Iraq war, health care, the economy and immigration.

The major Republican candidates also refused invitations to address NCLR, the National Council of La Raza, at its annual conference in July. In June, the only Republican to show up at the convention of the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials was California Rep. Duncan Hunter, the patron of the border fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Republicans’ slight of Hispanics “is very unusual,” said Cecilia Munoz, vice president of NCLR, who noted that President Bush spoke to the group when he was a candidate in 2000.

“It’s not just that they are not coming. It’s that some of them are visibly insulting us,” Munoz said, noting the party’s vitriolic message against legal and illegal immigrants in the presidential campaign and also on Capitol Hill, where Republicans are trying to introduce anti-immigrant language into unrelated measures.

“It’s very hard to imagine how some of these candidates are going to turn around and ask us for our vote” when the eventual GOP nominee is facing the Democrat in the general election, Munoz said. “It’s tremendously distressing and it’s not just immigrants who are feeling this disrespect,” she added.

All three forums were staged in Florida, a huge 2008 election battleground where the usually reliable Republican vote among Cuban-Americans is beginning to diminish. as younger Cuban-Americans are breaking from their parents’ political loyalties to the GOP, and the number of non-Cuban Hispanics is increasing.

While Univision scrapped the Sept. 16 debate after only McCain accepted, there is still faint optimism inside the network that other Republicans will eventually agree to attend at a later date.

A network spokeswoman noted that Republicans also hesitated in signing up for the unconventional CNN/YouTube debate, which now has been rescheduled for late November.

But many others doubt the major Republican candidates other than McCain will find time in their schedules for the Spanish-language network that reaches 80 percent of Hispanics nationwide. The University of Miami is co-sponsor of the debate.

The Romney and Giuliani campaigns did not respond to inquiries about their participation.Perhaps Republicans wondered –as did Democrats--how their words would be translated for a Spanish-speaking audience.

Democrats knew that two in their field–New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd–are proficient in Spanish, and did not want them to have an advantage. Imagine a candidate having to ask: “Como se dice comprehensive immigration reform?”

Debate organizers settled on a format for the Democratic forum Sunday night that requires candidates to answer in English. (The questions will be asked in Spanish and interpreted into English. The candidates’ responses will be in English and interpreted into Spanish for the television audience.)

Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a progressive group that helped bring together the Univision debates, said that by staying away, “Republicans really are writing off an enormous part of America in the 21st century. It’s not a good strategy from a policy or political standpoint.”

Republican and Democratic strategists agree that in order to win the White House, the presidential candidate must receive at least 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. Hispanics are expected to make up 10 percent of the total vote in 2008.

GOP candidates seem to be following the conclusion of its conservative base that the party cannot win over the Hispanic vote, Rosenberg said. “I think we will look back on this time and it will be seen as one of the greatest strategic blunders in American history,” he added.

Well, I don't know why the Hispanics are so surprised. They might be, but I'm not. Any group that are whining about a Youtube debate, certainly can't come forth and defend their positions to an audience that might actually ask serious questions.

It's September 9, 2007. Tavis Smiley is supposed to have his All-American Presidential Forum at Morgan State on September 27th. Now, WHO hasn't accepted?

Ah yes, Rudy and Flipping Mitt. Even Fred Thompson has accepted. Of course, the entire thing is suspect to me because Tavis didn't even ask for questions from the public from this one. What are they afraid of, hmmmmmm?

Do you know, that with all the opportunities to speak in front of Black audiences, the only one who accepted was Tancredo? How pathetic is that?

So, Univision shouldn't be too surprised, that's all.

1 comment:

Brian said...

They also skipped the Urban League Convention in St. Louis from a few weeks ago as well... although one Republican showed up (I want to say it was Thompson...but i'm not 100% certain).

But this whole thing begs the question... why do Republicans/Conservatives dislike minorities so much? At one point not too long ago, the Republican strategists were thinking of ways to pander to minorities with the hopes of getting more votes, particularly from Blacks and Hispanics. But it seems that the real aim all along (especially in 04 & 06) was for them to do just enough to split the minority vote, & to weaken their Democratic opponents.

They have no sincerity at all. Even if you don't agree with the political positions of Hispanics and African Americans (and I myself often don't)... you could at least show up for a debate.

I think this could end up costing the Republicans.... at least somewhat, because people often don't forget these snubs.

This also highlights the need for more political parties...viable ones. Without a viable 3rd and 4th political party... Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities cannot leverage their voting power effectively. It just doesn't work well in a 2-Party system. You need at least 3 Viable Major Parties...and really 4 (for a good system) to create a real atmosphere of competition.