It looks like Republicans have a new strategy to improve on Mitt Romney’s dismal 23% Latino voter turnout from 2012: Cancelling the only GOP debate scheduled to air on Spanish-language television.
Upset over perceived “gotcha” questions from moderators during last week’s CNBC debate, the RNC has suspended its relationship with NBC News and, for now, canned a February 26th debate scheduled to air on NBC and Telemundo.
“While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of “gotcha” questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates,” moaned RNC Chair Reince Priebus in a statement.
“We are suspending our partnership with NBC News and its properties.”
Interestingly ignored in the statement is that debate partner Telemundo also goes out the window along with NBC News, and makes the number of networks where all Republican candidates for President can make their case to Latino voters during the primary season a grand total of zero.
According to Greg Sargent, Jeb Bush’s campaign asked to have Telemundo reinstated during a meeting between campaign representatives yesterday. But the leading Republican candidate for President, anti-immigrant stalwart Donald Trump, put his foot down on that idea and, according to the NYT’s Ashley Parker, threatened a boycott if Telemundo was put back in the fold. So, of course, the RNC caved.
When Republicans will need up to 47% of the Latino vote in order to recapture the White House in 2016, it’s a whole new low for the party.
More from Sargent:
All this comes after GOP establishment types went into full-scale panic earlier this fall over the damage Trump — with his call for mass deportations and suggestion that Mexican immigrants are rapists — may already be doing to the GOP brand among Latinos. And it comes as incoming House Speaker Paul Ryan is renewing his pledge not to act on immigration reform while Obama is president.
Telemundo joins Univision and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in the latest of Latino organizations that Trump refuses to associate with. It’s notable that Trump won’t take questions before predominately Latino audiences, yet regularly shows up on cable news and Sunday talk shows. There’s a different level of scrutiny there, as Kerry Eleveld noted in a post published at DailyKos this weekend titled, “The media’s ‘objectivity’ on Trump is an insult to journalism.”
Trump seems to have absolutely no problem appearing on those shows, simply because they give him a free pass on his inciteful, bigoted remarks about immigrants and Latinos. As Eleveld noted, “The mainstream media’s overwhelming failure to call Trump’s rhetoric for what it is—racist, plain and simple—has been appalling. The journalistic concept of “objectivity” was never meant to be used as a shield for uncomfortable truths.”
But as soon as Trump is threatened with serious questions about his racism — as he would have surely faced had he not chickened out of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Q&A last month — the candidate cuts and runs.
As long as he keeps leading in the polls, Trump remains the face of the Republican Party. And maligning and ignoring immigrants and Latinos may work out in the short run during the GOP primary, but it’ll spell disaster when the general election comes around.
Our colleague Maribel Hastings notes: “Although we have four months to go until voting begins in the GOP caucuses and primaries, and one year until the presidential elections, Republicans keep signaling the fact that they are giving up the Hispanic vote.”