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Say What, Now?

hillaryponders.jpgThere are a lot of candidate debate forums this time around in the Democratic primary season. It’s got to make it harder for the campaigns to calculate (not to say triangulate) all the moving parts to come up with their sums telling them which ones to attend:

MIAMI — Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is going to turn down the Univision TV network’s invitation to participate in what would be the first presidential debates to be conducted in Spanish, while the other major candidates are undecided.

Only the two Democratic contenders fluent in Spanish, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, committed Wednesday to coming to the University of Miami for the debates.

The rest are checking their schedules, except for Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., an also-ran who made headlines last year by belittling Miami as a “third-world country.”

“I can say with 100 percent certainty that we will not be attending,” Tancredo spokesman Alan Moore said.

The candidates’ decisions will be closely observed at a time when Latinos make up the fastest-growing voting bloc and proposed immigration reforms are roiling the nation.


Univision reaches more viewers than CNN and MSNBC, which have showed debates. Latino political strategist Joe Garcia, chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, said: “You don’t turn down NBC, CBS, or ABC, and you don’t turn down Univision.”

But Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said Wednesday the candidate plans to attend only the six debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee from July through January, when the primaries begin. Two of those debates will be simulcast by CNN in Spanish, while the two NBC-MSNBC debates will be rebroadcast in Spanish by the Telemundo network. ABC and NBC are broadcasting the other two forums.

“We encourage the Democratic National Committee and Univision to work together so that Univision will have a role in one of these debates,” Elleithee said.

I’m a little confused by the Clinton camp’s statement, since Clinton attended the Sojourners Faith & Politics Forum, which was not sanctioned by the DNC. She is also reportedly attending the NAACP debate on July 12 and the Tavis Smiley debate on June 28. Neither of these are sanctioned by the DNC.

It’s one thing to decide not to attend the Univision debate, conducted in Spanish, because you can’t, well, speak Spanish. It’s not as if people don’t know the candidates can’t speak fluent Spanish, other than Richardson (update:  and Dodd). But the campaign’s stated reason for not attending insults the intelligence of everyone involved. This dog ate my homework shit just doesn’t fly.

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