Pander Bears

Last night’s long-awaited Univision debate was more peaceful than most, as the GOP candidates seemed careful not to alienate an already skeptical audience. Lines about reaching out to Hispanics drew the most applause. The only booing came when Rep. Ron Paul argued that “we create the Chavezes of the world, we create the Castros of the world.”

Univision was originally forced to postpone the debate after only Sen. John McCain accepted the network’s invitation. The other campaigns cited scheduling conflicts. The top GOP candidates also avoided a minority-sponsored forum hosted by Tavis Smiley in September, sparking concern among party leaders that the candidates are hurting the party’s reputation among blacks and Hispanics.

Whatever damage was done, the candidates did their best to repair it last night by soft-pedaling their hardline policies and emphasizing shared beliefs over rifts. Here’s a quick roundup of peace offerings:

Rudy Giuliani: I approach the Hispanic community the same way I do all communities.
Mitt Romney: And so, Hispanics, along with other people in this country, want to see change.
Mike Huckabee: I think Hispanics want the same thing everybody wants.
Fred Thompson: Well, I think that we do share a lot in this country, whether we’re Hispanic or whether we are not Hispanic.
Ron Paul: Hispanics, like everybody else, want change in our foreign policy.

Full transcript here .