Trust me on this, everything the Republicans are doing to select a candidate is meaningless. Barack Obama is the once and future president. The reason is arithmetic. Ask Karl Rove. The demographic makeup of the nation requires the GOP to win at least 35% of the burgeoning Hispanic vote. Right now, if they’re lucky, they’re on course to match John McCain’s paltry 29%. And if the candidates keep up their radical, incessant immigrant-bashing they’ll get less than that.

A perfect example of Republican tone-deafness is the cancellation of the Univision debate that was originally scheduled for January 29th.

As veteran author and investigative reporter Ken Auletta incisively portrays in the current “New Yorker” magazine, the stated reason for the debate cancellation, which happened back in October 2011, was a hatchet job Univision did on the GOP’s favorite Latino, Florida senator Marco Rubio.

Univision is far and away the largest Spanish-language television in the United States. Without a tiring regurgitation of the network’s story, essentially it concerned an ancient drug bust of Senator Rubio’s brother-in-law. The story was factually true, but it was almost a quarter century old. The rub, according to the Miami Herald, was an alleged attempted shakedown by the network of the senator. If he would do an extended interview with the network, the Herald story stated, Univision would agree not to run the embarrassing stale old story about the brother-in-law’s long ago transgression.

When the Herald’s front-page expose of Univision’s alleged blackmail of the GOP’s rising star ran, South Florida’s powerful, conservative Republican Cuban American community organized the boycott by the candidates of the Univision presidential debate.

Crushed, the network cancelled its debate. Worse for Univision, its integrity was besmirched by the newspaper, which essentially called the network’s news division shakedown artists.

No novice, Auletta has written for the New Yorker for almost four decades. He’s written numerous books and is highly regarded within the journalism community.

His article’s conclusion is therefore devastating to the Miami Herald. The sub-title of the article gives it away:
       “Marco Rubio and the GOP play a dangerous game on immigration.”

The most telling graph reads,
       “It seems much more likely that boycotting a debate on Univision was a  
         convenient way for the Republican candidates to appease Senator
         Rubio and, at the same time, avoid engaging in a debate on the eve of
         the Florida primary that would likely inflame Hispanics.”

The implication of Auletta’s article is that the Herald reporters (perhaps unwittingly) played the role of stooges for Rubio and the Cuban American establishment; that the paper punished Univision to give the GOP an out from its January rendezvous with the other side of the immigration debate scheduled just two days before the Sunshine State’s all-important presidential primary.

The paper denies the charge and vigorously defends its reporting as fair and independent. But as Auletta writes, a reporter of the paper’s anti-Univision expose admitted “the tip for the story first came to the Herald ‘from friends of Rubio’.”

As I have been writing since my 2007 book “His Panic” in my opinion Cuban Americans have a different view on illegal immigration at least in part because undocumented Cuban immigrants, alone in the universe, are treated differently than undocumented immigrants from all other nations.

Because of the enormous and disproportionate clout the community wields in Florida politics and media like the Herald, the treatment of Cubans fleeing Castro’s dictatorship is far more benign and compassionate than the treatment of destitute Haitians fleeing their neighboring barren and broken island nation, for example; or Mexicans fleeing their drug violence, or Central Americans their poverty, etc.

Articulate, intelligent, popular and charismatic, Marco Rubio still has the chance to help bridge the gap between Cuban Americans and the rest of the Hispanic American community on this issue. He can honor his party’s concern about illegal immigration by advocating moderate reform without advocating open borders. There is a huge gap between the “let them all ins” and those who ask for reason and compassion as John McCain once did and as Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry still do.

At the very least, the senator can condemn the worst rhetorical excesses by his party’s standard bearers.

If he and the GOP don’t moderate their tone, there may never be another Republican president. That’s not a threat, that’s arithmetic.  

Geraldo Rivera is Senior Columnist for Fox News Latino. 

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