Arnold Schwarzenegger skipped the recent California Gubernatorial Recall Candidates Debate, which was held in the traditional, unscripted format. He did, however, agree to take part in the next debate — which should be re-named “The DUH-bate” — in which the candidates will be given all of the questions in advance. That allows for entirely scripted, safe answers — and no independent thought by the candidates. On Thursday, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante (D) and State Sen. Tom McClintock (R) — Schwarzenegger’s top two rivals in the race — both co-signed a letter demanding that the proposed format be dumped in favor of an unscripted debate format. Without that change, they plan to boycott the event and possibly hold their own debate elsewhere at the same time. Reportedly, other candidates in the race may join with the duo in an attempt to embarrass Schwarzenegger into accepting the proposal. Schwarzenegger, to date, has rejected invitiations to participate in any other proposed debates.
This is a rather cowardly stance by Schwarzenegger, although one that may be smart if the 9th Circuit’s postponement of the election until March stands. If the election goes forth as originally scheduled, though, then this stand is not only outrageous but, frankly, stupid. It’s one thing to run out the clock on a safe lead, but Schwarzenegger is either neck-in-neck with or slightly behind Bustamante, depending on which dated poll one reads.