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GUY RAZ, HOST:

Rick Perry and at least four other Republican presidential candidates say they will refuse to take part in a debate planned by Univision. That's the nation's largest Spanish-language television network.

As NPR's Greg Allen reports from Miami, it's part of a dispute between the network and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: According to the Miami Herald, the story began in July when Univision was preparing a story on Rubio's brother-in-law, who was convicted of drug trafficking 24 years ago when Rubio was 16. Rubio staffers say Univision's president of news, Isaac Lee, said in a conference call, he would consider softening the story or pulling it altogether, if Rubio would agree to appear on a network talk show.

Univision says Lee never made such an offer. The Herald says its story was confirmed both by Rubio's staff and insiders at the TV network.

After seeing the story, three Republican officials called on the Republican Party and its presidential candidates to boycott a debate the network was planning to hold before the Florida primary.

One of the officials is the majority leader in Florida's House of Representatives, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a supporter of Texas Governor Rick Perry.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA: It's about a news organization threatening to run a story that is irrelevant but embarrassing, in order to coerce or motivate somebody to participate in an interview or appear on a show on their network.

ALLEN: Several Republican candidates - including Perry, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and businessman Herman Cain - said they would not take part in an Univision debate.

Rubio has been mentioned as a possible pick for running mate.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.

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