The Republican National Committee has suspended its partnership with NBC News moderators for the Republican primary debate in February 2016, potentially shutting out debate partners at Telemundo, the second-largest Spanish-language network, according to a letter posted Friday by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
The letter criticizes CNBC’s handling of the third Republican debate, accusing the network of conducting the debate “in bad faith.” According to Priebus, the moderators asked candidates questions that were “inaccurate or downright offensive.”
The Washington Post reports that Preibus’ proposal to suspend ties with NBC News was accepted by nearly all representatives of every Republican presidential campaign. Although former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s camp recommended that Telemundo be reinstated, Donald Trump’s camp reportedly “threatened to boycott a debate if the Spanish-language network that Trump has clashed with was granted one.”
Shutting out Telemundo, the second-largest Spanish-language network, may have dire consequences for a party that has been trying to make inroads since Mitt Romney won just 23 percent of Latino voters in the 2012 primary election. Soon after Romney’s loss, the RNC released a now-infamous 2012 GOP autopsy report calling on Republicans to embrace Latino voters, a fast-growing and necessary-to-win demographic.
In fact, the autopsy report specifically recommended that the GOP “invest financial resources in Hispanic media” because “[i]f we are going to attract these groups to our Party and candidates, our budgets, and expenses need to reflect this importance.” The autopsy report also said that GOP surrogates should have “a high-level presence on all Latino media” in order to “help carry and sell our message to the Hispanic community.”
Republican presidential candidates may need anywhere between 42 and 47 percent of the Latino vote, especially in key battleground states like Virginia, Ohio, New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado, the polling group Latino Decisions found.
About two-thirds of Latino voters say that it’s extremely important or very important to have changes in federal immigration policies to pass new immigration legislation soon, according to the Pew Research Center. The same poll found that about one-third of Latino voters say that they would not vote for a candidate if they disagreed with the candidate on immigration policy.
Donald Trump, who once proclaimed that he would win the Latino vote, may be one of the primary reasons that Latino voters are turned off from the Republican party in general. Trump has called for the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, criticized Republican opponent Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish at campaign events, and characterized Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. According to the latest AP-GfK poll out last week, barely one in ten Latinos view Trump favorably.
While Republicans continue to shoot themselves in the foot, Democrats have instead seemingly embraced the ethos of the GOP autopsy report. The three major Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley, have recently either hired people who have an immigrant advocacy background or who are themselves undocumented immigrants.