The Univision anchor Jorge Ramos has accused Donald Trump of revealing dictatorial tendencies by expelling him from a press conference.
Ramos said on Wednesday that the leading Republican candidate for president tried to silence him and revealed a dangerous intolerance for freedom of speech during their heated encounter in Iowa on Tuesday.
“Those are the things you see in dictatorships and not in the United States of America,” Ramos told Fox’s Megyn Kelly. “Clearly Donald Trump did not like my questions … and he tried to silence me. In this country you don’t do that.”
The anchor, a hugely influential figure among Latinos, said the billionaire developer’s views on immigration and freedom of the press ran contrary to US values. “His words are dangerous and his ideas are extreme.”
Ramos, who has been dubbed the Walter Cronkite of Latino America, denied he was rude or baited the GOP candidate at the press conference in the city of Dubuque, saying two journalists asked questions before him and that he was entitled to confront the candidate.
The spat began when Ramos stood up and started asking a question without being called on. Trump tried to ignore him and called on another reporter.
When Ramos persisted, Trump retorted “You weren’t called” and told Ramos to “sit down” and “go back to Univision”. A security guard working for Trump then forcibly escorted Ramos out of the room.
The reality TV star turned politician accused Ramos of “screaming” and being “a very emotional person”.
Ramos was later allowed back in the press room and engaged in a prolonged back and forth with Trump on immigration, the lightning rod issue of his insurgent campaign.
Ramos has used his position on Noticiero Univision – US Spanish-language TV’s number one ranked newscast, drawing more than two million viewers – to openly champion immigration reform.
Kelly, who has also tangled with Trump, asked Ramos if his combative approach, and Univision’s open disdain for Trump, had contributed to the spat. Ramos said no.
“I followed the rules and he just didn’t like the question. The problem is he’s not used to being asked uncomfortable questions.”
Trump’s professed desire to expel undocumented migrants and build a wall along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico needed challenging, Ramos said. “When he’s expressing those really dangerous words we have to confront them… even if he doesn’t like it.”
Speaking later on Kelly’s show, Carol Coulter, the conservative pundit, said Ramos was no journalist. “He’s an ethnic activist and was showing up to protest, not to ask a question.”
Jesse Watters, speaking earlier on Fox News, also showed little sympathy, saying Ramos “ acted like an illegal alien and got treated like one ”.
Speaking from Florida, however, Jeb Bush, Trump’s rival for the Republican nomination, sided with Ramos. “I think people with the press ought to be treated with a little more respect and dignity.”
It is estimated that the GOP’s eventual nominee will need to win nearly half of the Latino vote to take the White House in 2016.