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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On Univision\'s Nightly News, a Plea for Presidential Debate on Latino Issues


Univision will use its nightly news broadcast on Wednesday to plead with both presidential campaigns to accommodate an additional debate, on Univision, directed at the issues of concern to Latino viewers.

The hosts of “Noticiero Univision,” Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas, will directly urge Mitt Romney and President Obama to participate in a debate or forum for its Hispanic viewers, according to the network.

Their efforts come hours after the Commission on Presidential Debates denied Univision's request to host a forum with the candidates that would emphasize issues like immigration and health care that rank high on Hispanic voters' list of concerns.

“We recognize there are many organizations and individuals who wish they had been included in our moderator selection,” Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates, told Politico Wednesday afternoon. “Debate arithmetic mean s that it is impossible to accommodate all of them.”

That response came after Univision's chief executive, Randy Falco, issued a letter to the debate commission expressing his “disappointment on behalf of the millions of Hispanics who do not have a voice in the upcoming presidential debates.” He asked Ms. Brown to consider adding a Hispanic-targeted “forum” with bilingual moderators, Mr. Ramos and Ms. Salinas.

“Since you have already made your decision on moderators for the debates and have neglected to have someone speak credibly to the concerns of Hispanics in America, Univision would be willing to create a forum,” Mr. Falco wrote.

Many political experts consider the Hispanic vote to be critical in this election cycle because of its pivotal role in states like Florida, Nevada and Colorado. Mr. Falco said Hispanics nationwide made up 8.7 percent of all voters and 16.5 percent in Florida.

Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney have Spanish-langua ge ads on the air in key states and have appeared on Mr. Ramos's Sunday morning current affairs talk show “Al Punto.”

Amy Chozick is The Times's corporate media reporter. Follow @amychozick on Twitter.