Five Republican presidential candidates are boycotting a proposed debate sponsored by Univision for allegedly trying to "extort" Florida GOP senator Marco Rubio into doing an interview with the Spanish-language network.
Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney have all issued statements saying that Univision must respond directly to charges that it promised to spike a story about a decades-old drug bust involving a relative of Rubio if the senator would appear on its program "Al Punto," a show known for its advocacy for extreme pro-illegal immigration positions.
The candidates opted out of the debate at the behest of several top Florida Hispanic Republican leaders who argued in a letter to the Republican National Committee that Univision fire its news president, Isaac Lee, and publicly apologize to Rubio.
Univision is defending itself from the charges, stating that its preposterously overhyped and biased report on Rubio was "truthfully and accurately reported."
The network denied the extortion claim in a statement saying that "Univision takes exception to the false assertion that it attempted to ‘extort’ Senator Rubio in any way, shape or form. At no point in time did anyone from Univision offer to kill or soften the story regarding Senator Rubio’s brother-in-law in exchange for appearing on any Univision news program."
The proposed Univision-hosted debate was to take place shortly before the Florida primary on January 29th. It was to be the second debate sponsored by a Spanish-language TV network. Rival Telemundo, owned by NBC Universal and also an advocate for illegal immigration, is holding its own debate. At this time, no candidates have declined to participate in its event.