Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Richardson Agrees To Spanish Language Presidential Debate
By Barry Massey/
SANTA FE Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson has agreed to participate in a candidate debate in September that's to be conducted in Spanish.
Univision Communications Inc., the nation's largest Spanish-language broadcaster, has invited candidates to a debate planned Sept. 9 at the University of Miami.
"Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of our population and this is a unique chance for all of the candidates to hear and address the concerns and priorities of this important constituency,'' Richardson said in a statement on Wednesday.
Richardson, who is fluent in Spanish, is the nation's only Hispanic governor. He was born in California, but spent his early childhood in Mexico City.
Richardson challenged other Democrats to participate in the debate, saying "diversity is a fundamental Democratic issue.''
Univision says the presidential debate would be the first conducted in Spanish. Simultaneous translation is to be provided to candidates and viewers.
Univision's sale to a private investor group received final federal regulatory approval earlier this year. The company has invited Republican presidential candidiates to a debate also in Spanish on Sept. 16.
The former chairman and chief executive officer of Univision, A. Jerrold Perenchio, a California Republican, was a major political donor to Richardson's gubernatorial campaigns in 2002 and 2006.
Richardson, at the request of Perenchio, wrote a letter of support in 2003 for a merger of Univision and another Spanish-language broadcasting company. The letter appeared in newspapers to counter opposition to the merger from some congressional Democrats. Richardson at the time described Perenchio as a "longtime friend'' and said the campaign contributions played no role in his decision to support the media company merger.
Perenchio and one of his companies contributed about $167,000 to Richardson's 2002 campaign
Richardson's 2006 re-election campaign received about $156,000 from Perenchio, his wife and their son. The campaign also received $50,000 from the Jerry Perenchio Living Trust because Univision was a sponsor of the governor's inauguration in January.
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