jeb bush donald trump
Donald Trump smiles on stage at the Oct. 28, 2015, Republican primary debate held by CNBC as fellow presidential candidate Jeb Bush walks away. The two candidates represent two thrusts of the GOP field who are arguing over the RNC’s decision to cancel a February debate hosted by Telemundo (like CNBC it is owned by NBC). Trump wants to boycott Telemundo following the CNBC debate questions that many viewed as unfair. Bush doesn’t want to punish the network for the conduct of another NBC property. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The Republican National Committee has cancelled their partnership with NBC, cancelling a February debate that was scheduled to be held on Telemundo. In a letter, RNC Chairman Reince Preibus billed the break as a reaction to the disastrous CNBC debate last week (viewers applauded when Ted Cruz called CNBC anchors’ approach a “ cage match .” Nowhere does the letter mention Telemundo or the hundreds of thousands of Spanish language viewers that the GOP just turned their backs on.

“While we are suspending our partnership with NBC News and its properties, we still fully intend to have a debate on that day, and will ensure that National Review remains part of it,” Preibus wrote.

Despite the calamitous Summer of Trump (“[Mexicans] are bringing drugs and they are bringing crime, and they’re rapists”) and strong warnings from conservative Hispanics, the Grand Old Party is digging itself into an even deeper hole. Latino viewers were not the impetus for the move, but losing them is a sure consequence.

The letter from the RNC doesn’t do anything to stem this damage. The National Review’s participation on a panel gets a mention, but Spanish-language and Latino viewers to not. The letter even goes out of it’s way to defend Donald Trump, it does not name the candidate.

“Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive. The first question directed to one of our candidates [Trump] asked if he was running a comic book version of a presidential campaign, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed,” Preibus wrote.

There’s debate inside the Republican field as to how to proceed. Jeb Bush’s campaign has strongly argued for reinstating the Telemundo debate. Trump had threatened to boycott the debate if Telemundo hosts (he’s also boycotting the other top 2 Spanish-language network, Univision, with whom he is embroiled in a lawsuit).

Did the RNC need to stand up to unfair questions from the moderators, or is Telemundo’s audience too big a price to pay for taking a stand against NBC?

Democrats, meanwhile, are downright taking advantage of the Republican’s antagonism towards Telemundo and Univision. The Democratic National Committee is currently in talks with Telemundo snag the air time abandoned by the GOP, the Washington Post reports . A Univision-hosted Democratic debate is scheduled for March.

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