The Republican presidential candidates have for the most part been trying to out-tough each other on illegal immigration, but they might sing a slightly different tune in their next debate.
They are scheduled to be in Miami on Sunday for a 90-minute forum hosted and broadcast by Univision, the nation's leading Spanish-language media company.
One of the candidates who plans to attend, John McCain, told Globe editors today that the level of rhetoric against illegal immigration could be interpreted as anti-Hispanic.
"We Republicans ought to be very careful," said McCain, who was vilified by some in his own party for championing comprehensive immigration reform that failed to get through Congress earlier this year.
Univision postponed its GOP debate this fall after three candidates -- Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson -- declined invitations. Now, after Mike Huckabee confirmed, the only no-show will be Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, a Univision spokeswoman said today.
Tancredo -- whose campaign is based on tough immigration policy and who has aired hard-hitting TV ads warning about terrorists and Central American gangs coming through porous borders -- has said he would never participate in a Spanish-language debate.
Illegal immigration sparked most of the heated back-and-forth in their last debate in St. Petersburg, Fla., and it might have become even spicier with the Globe's revelation today that Mitt Romney hired a landscaping company with undocumented workers on the payroll.
Romney, who faced the same situation last year, fired the company Tuesday night, asserting that he gave it a second chance and it failed to comply with the law. His rivals were happy to take more potshots at Romney, who has made his stand against illegal immigration a core piece of his campaign.