Five Republican presidential candidates said they will boycott a proposed Univision-sponsored debate in January after allegations emerged that the Spanish-language network tried to blackmail Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio over a story about his brother-in-law.
GOP contenders Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann all said Tuesday they will not participate in the planned debate until the alleged ethical breach involving Rubio — widely thought to be on the short list for the vice presidential nomination — is resolved, the Miami Herald reported.
According to the newspaper, which first posted a story on the allegations Saturday, Rubio repeatedly refused to appear on Univision’s liberal-leaning “Al Punto” show to discuss the Dream Act, which he staunchly opposes. Frustrated, the network dispatched its investigations unit during the summer to dig up a story on the 1987 cocaine arrest of Orlando Cicilia, Rubio’s brother-in-law. Both Rubio staffers and Univision insiders alleged the news director tried to make a deal with the senator: Appear on Al Punto and the network would kill or soften the story. Rubio declined, and the story ran on July 11, amid much hype.
Following the report, three Florida congressman sent open letters to Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus on Monday, calling the revelations “offensive, unacceptable and demonstrat[ing] a lack of journalistic integrity” and urging all GOP hopefuls to boycott the debate, which has not been officially announced.