Republicans might be missing another opportunity to connect with Latino voters. And conservative Hispanic leaders aren't too happy about it.
Republican Latinos are urging the GOP to reinstate a planned presidential debate that was scheduled to air on Spanish-language network Telemundo. The party's recent decision to scuttle the debate could further hamper the GOP's efforts to court Hispanic voters, conservative Latino leaders warn.
The Republican National Committee last week decided to suspend the Feb. 26 debate hosted by NBC News and Telemundo in response to the GOP candidates' complaints about CNBC’s handling of the last debate in Boulder, Colorado. CNBC and Telemundo are owned by NBCUniversal.
The debate on Telemundo would have been the Republican's only debate broadcast on a Spanish-language network. Skipping it, conservative Latinos claim, could hurt their party's chances to make up ground with Hispanic voters, many of whom already have an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump, a recent poll showed.
Daniel Garza, executive director of the LIBRE Initiative, is also calling on Republicans to find a way to make the Telemundo debate happen.
“Failing to go forward on a debate with the Spanish-language outlet Telemundo would truly undermine that effort,” Garza said in a statement. “We encourage all parties involved to work together to ensure that a debate takes place.”
Jeb Bush is also pushing back against the RNC's decision and has called for the Telemundo debate to go forward as planned. Trump, meanwhile, has come out against the debate on Spanish-language television.
“If Trump doesn’t want to do it, well, he doesn’t have to show up and everybody else will,” Aguilar said. “I think it’s important. It sends a message of inclusion, of wanting to engage the Latino community.
“You can’t win the White House if you don’t have Hispanic support,” he stressed.
On Monday, The Washington Post reported that Telemundo is now in discussions with the Democratic National Committee about hosting a candidate forum instead.
Univision, one of Fusion’s parent companies, is scheduled to host a Democratic candidate debate on March 9 in Miami.
If Telemundo and the DNC reach an agreement, it would mean Democrats would have two debate-style events broadcast on Spanish-language networks.
And the Republicans would have none.