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July 27, 2007
GOP To Duck YouTube Debate?
Some Republican candidates for President are getting cold feet about showing up at the next YouTube debate scheduled for September. The prospect of ordinary voters asking them tough questions - questions that are not screened as they are at all their set-piece town hall meetings and other events - is giving Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney the willies:
"[O]nly Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) have agreed to participate in the debate, co-hosted by Republican Party of Florida in St. Petersburg. Romney thinks "the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman," referring to a YouTube questioner at the Democratic debates last Monday who asked about global warming. And Giuliani is fearful about questions regarding his personal life and business.
"Aside from those two candidates, we haven't heard from anyone else," said Sam Feist of CNN, who's co-sponsoring the debate with the popular videosharing site.
Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney, both with dozens of videos on their YouTube channels, have not signed up. Neither have the rest of the Republican candidates, including Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.), whose "Tancredo Takes" on his YouTube channel draw hundreds of views.
Sources familiar with the Guiliani campaign said he's unlikely to participate. Kevin Madden, Romney's spokesman, said the former Massachusetts governor has seven debate invitations covering a span of 11 days in September.
"We haven't committed to any of them yet," Madden said.
But what they're all afraid of us CNN and the fact that this debate, perhaps more than the others, is much more show business than it is serious politics. That means that questions will be chosen by CNN producers that would probably be a little more embarrassing to Republicans than any queries asked of Democrats. For example, would CNN find it entertaining to have a gay man ask about gay marraige? Or a woman ask about the right to an abortion? Or questions on the war from an anti-war veteran?
All in the spirit of show business, of course.
I personally think it would be a huge mistake for the Republicans to skip out on this debate. It would leave the impression - stoked, no doubt, by the media - that the GOP candidates are cowards. Besides, if they think this is tough, what about after they get into office?
These people want to be President of the United States. If they can’t stand up to a little tough questioning from Democratic partisans (CNN included) how in God’s name are they going to stand up to Ahmadinejad who I guarantee will feel a helluva lot more empowered come November, 2008 than a gay guy from New York asking about gay marriage! Maybe I should put on a tutu and ask a question about funding for the arts....