The leading GOP presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, walked into the lion’s den today when they agreed – after much back and forth – to participate separately in a ‘Meet the Candidates’ event co-hosted by Univision Network, the nation’s largest Spanish-language broadcast news outfit.
Univision is considered Public Enemy No. 1 by many in the GOP for its strong pro-immigrant advocacy on issues such as the DREAM Act and the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
The network is owned by a consortium led by Haim Saban, the billionaire head of New York private equity firm Saban Capital Group, who is reportedly a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton and a major Democratic Party donor. GOP strategists describe him as the liberal media’s answer to Wall Street Journal owner and fellow billionaire Rupert Murdoch.
The candidates had agreed to boycott the network early in the campaign after Univision News ran an embarrassing story last summer about the past misdeeds of the brother-in-law of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a rising star in the GOP who is a Miami Cuban.
Rubio’s staff did not question the accuracy of the story, which detailed how his brother-in-law, Orlando Cicilia, was sentenced in 1989 to 25 years in prison for cocaine trafficking and released early, in 2000. The senator, who was only a teen at the time, was not implicated in the case.