LatinaLista — Earlier this month, Univision sent a letter to all of the presidential candidates inviting them to come on down to the land of sandy beaches and palm trees and while soaking up the sun, soak up some stage lights too while participating in the network’s first Spanish-language debate.
Of course, the only two who jumped at the chance to flex their linguistic advanage were New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd. Both who are fluent Spanish-speakers — Richardson by birth and Dodd by virtue of the Peace Corps.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson
Everybody else has hung back trying to figure out how to say “I don’t want to embarrass myself” in Spanish. (Hint: don’t use the word embarazada. Believe me, it doesn’t mean embarrassed.)
Univision must have been getting worried that they were only going to be hosting two candidates from the same party. So, a couple of weeks later the network sent out a second letter to the candidates “clarifying” the debate.
Yes, it would be conducted in Spanish but all the candidates would have to answer in English so that everyone would be on a level playing field. The clarification seemed to work, a little.
Reports began circulating that Representative Dennis Kucinich and former Senator Mike Gravel were now interested in participating. Yet, Richardson and Dodd were upset that they would now be forced to answer in English.
Richardson was said to have threatened to back out of the debate but one of his campaign workers told Latina Lista that as of now he still plans to stay in the debate.
There are no great expectations from the Republican camp. Yet, I’m sure Univision is crossing their fingers that the Republicans will think enough of the Latino electorate to make an appearance.
So that just leaves the rest of the Democratic candidates.
You would think that once they heard everyone was answering in English it would be a go. Yet, one campaign worker for an unnamed candidate told Latina Lista that her candidate wouldn’t be participating because the debate was not sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and that all the candidates had promised the DNC that they wouldn’t participate in non-DNC sanctioned debates.
A quick call to the DNC revealed that the DNC had already set up their debate schedule, one debate per month till December, before Univision made their offer to the candidates.
However, the DNC isn’t explicitly telling any of the candidates they can’t participate. There are no penalties if they do. No fines. No suspensions from the party. In other words, it’s up to the individual candidates if they want to do the Univision debate.
Let’s see, Richardson, Dodd, Kucinich and Gravel think the Univision debate is worth a little sun. Now, we just have to wait to see if Clinton, Obama, Edwards and Biden think the same, or are too afraid to get (sun)burned.