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4 Republican presidential hopefuls boycott Univision debate over Rubio story

Five Republican presidential candidates are boycotting a proposed Univision debate due to allegations that the Spanish-language media giant tried to strong-arm Sen. Marco Rubio with a controversial story about a relative.

Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann all issued statements Tuesday saying Univision needs to make amends before they would appear at the debate, tentatively scheduled for two days before Florida's Jan. 31 primary.

The five made separate announcements at the behest of three Florida Hispanic Republican lawmakers who noted that Rubio's office and Univision insiders said the network publicized an embarrassing story about the senator's brother-in-law because Rubio wouldn't sit down for an interview on the show Al Punto, which has espoused a liberal line on immigration.

Univision has called the allegations of a quid pro quo "absurd," and said the July story of the 24-year-old drug bust was reported fairly and accurately.

Three of Rubio's friends and political allies — U.S. Rep. David Rivera, state House majority leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and Miami-Dade Republican Chairman Erik Fresen — called for the Univision boycott in a letter Monday to the Republican National Committee and the campaigns.

Cain's book is out

Fresh off winning the Florida GOP's straw poll at Presidency 5, Herman Cain will appear at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Barnes & Noble at 2501 Tyrone Blvd. in St. Petersburg. Earlier, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO will be at the Barnes & Noble in the Villages. It's all to promote his new book, This is Herman Cain!: My Journey to the White House, which was released Tuesday.

Uphill battle ahead

Democratic former state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald of Sarasota is poised to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan. Taking on a relatively popular multimillionaire incumbent in a GOP-leaning district is an uphill challenge to say that least, but Fitzgerald was a moderate and among the brighter bulbs in the Florida House over two terms. He is likely to be Buchanan's toughest challenger since 2006. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee heavily recruited Fitzgerald and sees Buchanan as a prime target in Florida. A formal announcement is expected Thursday.

GOP boss named

Andy Palmer, who was nearly begged by Gov. Rick Scott to take the job as executive director of the Republican Party of Florida, announced Monday he is leaving his post to join the law firm of Metz, Husband and Daughton as a senior policy adviser. That means he's now in the Tallahassee lobbying/consulting corps. On Tuesday, Palmer's replacement was named: Mike Grissom, currently the party's deputy executive director. Grissom also was a strategist for Scott's gubernatorial campaign.

4 Republican presidential hopefuls boycott Univision debate over Rubio story 10/04/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 11:40pm]
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