During the second GOP debate, Emmy Award-winning Univision anchor Ilia Calderón left many of the Republican Party presidential candidates flustered. She did so by asking pointed questions they didn’t expect (especially not on Fox News). Simultaneously, she proved why a fierce Latina needs to be at the table to represent and shake things up. 

Calderón, 51, co-anchor of Univision’s evening news, was one of three moderators in the second Republican presidential primary debate. She sat alongside Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney and Fox News Channel host Dana Perino.  

Univision co-hosted the debate with Fox News Media, broadcasting the event in Spanish. Univision producers retained editorial control over Calderón’s questions. 

The Univision anchor held the seven Republican candidate’s feet to the fire

Ilia Calderón asked questions on a range of topics important to the Latino community, particularly immigration, health, hate crimes, and the economy. She succeeded in catching the candidates off guard and drawing ire from right-wing Republicans. 

The event had a bumpy start, with Varney stumbling over Calderon’s last name, trying to pronounce it with a Spanish accent. 

“I’m thrilled to be sitting alongside my co-moderators, Fox News Channel Dana Perino and Ilia Calderón, cal, duh, uh, Univision, good evening,” Varney flubbed. You would think he would have practiced, right? 

“Thank you, thank you, Stuart,” she answered, unflustered. She then proceeded to make history as the first Afro-Latina to moderate a Republican debate. 


The 2nd Republican Presidential debate started off with an uncomfortable moment as moderator Stuart Varney fumbled the introduction of fellow moderator llia Calderón.

♬ original sound – Mosheh Oinounou

Ilia Calderón brought representation to the table — and she did it in style

To mark the occasion, the Univision anchor wore a white fitted dress (in honor of the suffragettes), a peplum skirt, and a V-shaped neckline that laid bare one of her vitiligo spots. Calderon has suffered from the condition and has been outspoken about it.  

At the start, she reminded the candidates that Ronald Reagan, whose presidential library was the venue for the debate, had granted amnesty to nearly three million immigrants — setting the tone of her questions. 

She put Gov. Ron DeSantis on the defensive when she asked him about Florida’s new African-American history standards — which state that African-Americans somehow benefited from slavery. 

An irritated DeSantis could only counter back by claiming that Calderon’s premise that the standards were racist and wrong was that it was a lie “perpetrated by Kamala Harris.

Calderón brought first-hand experience to the debate

The difference Ilia Calderon made during the GOP debate was giving her community voice in a way not seen before nor expected by a FoxNews audience.

On the issue of racism, it bears remembering Calderón herself was a victim of white supremacy. During a 2017 report, the Ku Klux Klan leader she was interviewing called her the N-word and “a mongrel.” He threatened with burning out of his property. The interview was being conducted in a remote area in North Carolina.  


But, the best part of a rather messy night and Calderón’s coup de grâce happened when she refreshed former NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s memory about a rather offensive remark he made in 2015.  At the time, Christie said the government should track immigrants like FedEx tracks packages. 

Mr. Christie, obviously taken aback, only managed to answer that it was now a “law enforcement problem.”  

During an unruly debate that sometimes descended into a playground fight, Calderón was poised and professional. She did not waver from the questions she needed to ask — knowing full well that Latinos were watching. She more than proved her metal and why representation matters.