RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Mitt Romney will be taking questions again tonight on Univision. It's the first of the Spanish language network's one-on-one conversations with both presidential candidates. Tomorrow, President Obama appears. Univision has teamed up with Facebook to translate both Mr. Obama's and Mitt Romney's answers into Spanish. A full English language version of the forums will be streaming live.
The event comes on the heels of some very public confrontations between Univision and the Commissioner on Presidential Debates.
NPR's Jasmine Garsd reports.
JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: The interviews came about after a dramatic clash that would rival any of the Spanish language network's famous Telenovelas between Univision and the non-profit that organizes the presidential debates. Univision cried foul after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced an all-white lineup of moderators.
JORGE RAMOS: It's so interesting, because the Commission on Presidential Debates seems to believe that it is ok to believe that it is OK to have an African-American president but it is not OK to have a moderator from a minority group.
GARSD: That's Univision's star anchor Jorge Ramos.
Univision President Randy Falco asked the Commission on Presidential Debates to schedule an additional debate, focused entirely on Hispanic issues. That request was denied. Janet Brown, the commission's executive director explained, quote, "We strongly believe that the four journalists we have named see their assignment as representing all Americans."
Univision disagreed. Here's Ramos again.
RAMOS: It's really unforgivable. And the American way is not to wait. We can't wait till 2016 to see if the commission then reconsiders and includes a Hispanic journalist. No, that's not the American way.
GARSD: Apparently the presidential candidates didn't want to wait either. Both candidates quickly agreed to participate in Univision's event.
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GARSD: At this restaurant in Washington, D.C., the television set is permanently tuned in to Univision. Everyone here knows about the upcoming Meet The Candidates Forum, but a mood of tired cynicism abounds.
GLADYS SAAVEDRA: (Foreign language spoken)
GARSD: That's Colombian-born Gladys Saavedra. She says: In this country, Latinos are cast aside. We're only useful to clean houses, to pick up the mess and to pay taxes. But now they've realized that the Latin vote is important.
Saavedra is one of about three million registered Hispanic voters who were born outside the U.S., but have since become naturalized citizens.
LISA GARCIA BEDOLLA: Many of those folks get their news from Univision, because there is a sense that they cover things that the English language news does not cover.
GARSD: That's University of California at Berkeley professor Lisa Garcia Bedolla. She is the author of the book "Latino Politics." Garcia Bedolla expects there will be plenty of questions at the Univision forum that won't be asked during the presidential debates.
BEDOLLA: The language of this forum is less critical than the substance of the forum. And the forum is going to be focused on a set of questions that probably aren't going to be as prominent in the English language debates.
GARSD: Univision's Meet The Candidates Forum will air in Spanish tonight and tomorrow at 10 P.M. Eastern. The interviews will be available simultaneously in English on Univision's Facebook page.
Jasmine Garsd, NPR News, Washington.
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