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Trump campaign spurns Spanish

Spanish-language media requests for interviews with the candidate have been denied or gone unanswered.
22 Jun 2016 – 01:22 PM EDT
¿Donald Trump y su campaña le dan la espalda al español? Crédito: Getty Images

The Republican Party candidate is omnipresent in the U.S. news media, giving frequent interviews. But he doesn't pay the same attention to Spanish-language media.

Ever since Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy in the summer of 2015, he has been ubiquitous in the press.

The business tycoon has always loved the cameras, and they love him back. He has made almost daily appearances on TV channels like Fox News and CNN. He frequently gives interviews in person – or by phone, a new method that Trump has used well to his advantage.

But his interviews have been frequent only in the English-language media.

The candidate does not speak Spanish. As he once put it, “This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.”

Yet it seems his campaign does not speak Spanish either, because none of his communications people speak Spanish – even though both Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, have Spanish-speaking communications staffers in their campaigns.

Univision Noticias has asked the Trump campaign if it has someone in charge of communications with Spanish language media, but the campaign has not responded.

A complex relationship

Donald Trump has a complicated history with Hispanics, going back almost a year ago when he branded Mexicans and “rapists and criminals.”

Since that time his popularity among Hispanics has been pummeled, as shown by a Gallup poll in March that indicated that 77 percent of Hispanics have a negative view of the business mogul.

That negative image could undermine his chances of reaching the White House, because many experts are predicting that Hispanic voters will be decisive in the November elections.

After Mitt Romney's 2012 loss to President Barack Obama, the Republican Party performed an analysis that showed it needs the votes of minorities and women to win the presidency.

But despite that, it seems the Trump campaign does not consider communicating with Spanish-language media to be a priority.

Hello,” not “Hola”

It's generally not easy for Spanish-language media in the United States to access the Trump campaign. Emails and phone calls usually go unanswered, or produce evasive responses.

Trump's only interview with Spanish-language media during the campaign was in 2015 with Telemundo, the television network that later joined with CNN to organize a debate for Republican candidates in February.

Univision Noticias asked several Spanish-language news media correspondents about their experience with the Trump campaign. They included reporters from Spain's EFE news agency and El País newspaper; La W, a Colombian radio network with a base in Miami; Impremedia, which owns the newspapers La Opinión in Los Angeles and La Prensa in New York; and the Azteca America TV network.

None of them has had access to the candidate or top campaign officials. Their requests for interviews have been denied or ignored. Their emails to the campaign officials in charge of communications often go unanswered.

Univision Noticias has asked at least 11 times for an interview with the candidate. The interview has not been granted.

We're not interested”

Jorge Mettey, vice president for news at Azteca América, told Univision Noticias this week that officials in the Trump campaign told one of his reporters, “we're not interested in coverage by Spanish media.”

Mettey added that reports that Trump had cancelled an interview with Azteca América correspondent Marcos Stupenengo were wrong. There was never an agreement on an interview, he said, and the erroneous report was the result of a problem with credentials.


The National Diversity Coalition for Trump (NDCTrump), a group not officially linked to the campaign, brings together people from various ethnic backgrounds who support Trump.

Some of Trump's statements about Hispanics, Muslims or women have offended various groups, but he may well need their votes in the final stages of the campaign for the White House.

NDCTrump Executive Director Bruce LeVell said he does have some contacts with Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, the candidate's business conglomerate.

Asked by Univision Noticias about the campaign's lack of communications with Spanish-language media, LeVell said, “I don't know how to answer that.”

LeVell said he did not know whether the campaign has spokespeople who speak Spanish but added that it does have volunteers – not campaign staffers – who speak Spanish.

He added that the person who should address the issue is campaign chief Corey Lewandowski. The problem is that Lewandowski is part of the inner circle that Spanish media say they have not been able to crack.

Mexican for Trump

Juan Carlos Limón, an NDCTrump member who identifies himself as a “Mexican for Trump,” also did not know the Trump campaign has no spokesperson who can speak Spanish. He said maybe that's because of the “stigma” attached to the candidate for his attacks on Mexicans.

“Maybe the problem is what he said about Mexicans a year ago…But I do believe they should have a Spanish spokesperson,” he said, adding that he was willing to take on the job if the campaign asks.

It's not clear whether Trump's strategy will shift to include some Hispanic media at some point, although for the moment he does not appear to need them.

Trump receives so much attention in the media that a report by SMG Delta, a company that specializes in studies of communications media, said the businessman has received about $2 billion worth of free publicity.

That has been the dynamic during the primaries. But the start of the national campaign may force the businessman maybe not to earn Spanish, but at least to communicate with Spanish-language media.

Note to Readers: Univision Communications Inc. and Donald Trump went into litigation when Univision decided not to transmit the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants because of Trump's comments about Hispanics when he launched his candidacy. The two parts reached an agreement that ended the dispute. Read the details here.