GOP Debate a Black Comedy

As might have been expected, last night’s “All-American Presidential Forum” featuring Repubican candidates for president talking to black journalists at a historically black college talking about issues of special interest to black Americans turned into a black comedy. The focus was mostly on the candidates who didn’t show — which is to say, all of them who might conceivably get elected president — and those who did show exemplified Kris Kristopherson’s adage, “Freedom is another word for nothing left to lose.

The Swamp‘s Mark Silva recaps the opener:

At the debate for Republicans at a historically black college campus in Maryland tonight — the debate that all of the leading Republican candidates for president snubbed — radio personality Tom Joyner offered a special welcome to the “home viewing audience” from the stage: Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thomspon. “You know I had to call them out,” said Joyner. Empty podiums were left for the party’s front-runners.

“Enough said of the no-shows,” said host Tavis Smiley, a PBS television and public radio talk show host and moderator of the debate at Morgan State University. Here are the shows: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, and former ambassador Alan Keyes of Maryland, reprising his 2000 campaign.

“I wish all of the candidates had come,” Huckabee said.

“The main reason I’m here is I was invited,” Paul said.

“I apologize for all the candidates who are not here,” said Brownback. “I think it’s a disgrace that they are not here… What they are doing is sending a message of narrowing the base.

“I’m sorry,” Brownback said. “A lot of people on the Republican side say we can’t get votes from the African American community,” he told the audience. “Why don’t you pick one of the primary states, register voters… and then vote for one of the six of us.”

The Media Bloggers Association, of which I’m a board member, credentialed over 40 bloggers to attend the event and cover it live. The chance to see Mike Huckabee and Alan Keyes, however, didn’t provide adequate motivation for fighting rush hour traffic to Baltimore and driving back from Baltimore in the middle of the night when I had to get up early for work the next day. By all indications, I made the right call. Those who stuck it out have their posts on the event aggregated here.

Ken Layne live blogged it for Wonkette, paraphrasing liberally. HuffPo’s Rachel Sklar plays the dialog straight, interjecting liberally.

Ian Schwartz notes that there was a minor bit of actual news: Ron Paul has pledged not to run as a 3rd party candidate when he doesn’t get the nomination.

American Taíno hands out report cards, with Mike Huckabee coming out as valedictorian with an A- and Alan Keyes barely graduating with a D.

Casey Lartigue is amused that Sam Brownback felt the need to announce he’d been to jail as a means of pandering to black people.

LaShawn Barber correctly guesses that the event will be “boring” and seems more interested in the other bloggers than in the candidates. Given they all have essentially the same chances of being elected president and the guys on stage won’t give out any link love, that’s probably a good call.

Eric Scheie attempts to transcribe the event, including audience reactions. His conclusion:

My feeling is that Huckabee did the best job. His sincerity was obvious, and he was very articulate as he spoke from the heart. Brownback came in second, and the rest, well, Hunter was sorta OK (although his pornography remark sounded almost bizarre), as was Tancredo, while Keyes and Paul sounded desperate and shrill. (I thought Keyes would be a little more articulate and reasoned, but he sounded almost defensive, and really seemed to be yelling.)

That Huckabee was the winner appears to be the early consensus. Will this give him an additional boomlet to go along with his strong showing in the meaningless Aimes straw poll? Perhaps. Enough to matter? Methinks not.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Race and Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. LaurenceB says:

    What is John McCain thinking?

    This was his chance to be the only leading candidate in a televised debate, and to cement his image as a Republican maverick that Democrats (and minorities) can vote for in good conscience.

    Who’s (mis)managing his campaign?

  2. Michael says:

    The chance to see Mike Huckabee and Alan Keyes, however, didn’t provide adequate motivation for fighting rush hour traffic to Baltimore and driving back from Baltimore in the middle of the night when I had to get up early for work the next day.

    Wow, your new employer wouldn’t allow you a late morning to cover a GOP debate? Sounds like you need a Bloggers Union.

    Who’s (mis)managing his campaign?

    I think, everyone. It’s hard to believe a single person could sink the lead campaign to quickly and thoroughly.

  3. Darren D says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

    Those wishing to buy candidate advertising should send inquiries to otb@blogads.com

  4. Kent says:

    “I apologize for all the candidates who are not here,” said Brownback.

    I must have missed the part where all the candidates who were not there authorized Brownback to apologize for them.

  5. One thing I was suprised is that not one of the candidates thought to mention school choice in response to either of the education related questions.

  6. Michael says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

    Those wishing to buy candidate advertising should send inquiries to otb@blogads.com

    Good call, I actually got the content of the post in my email notification, and it was definitely candidate astro-turfing by a supporter.

  7. Tannim, Riverside CA says:

    “Ian Schwartz notes that there was a minor bit of actual news: Ron Paul has pledged not to run as a 3rd party candidate when he doesn’t get the nomination.”

    That might change, mainly because of the calendar. See Free Market News for more details.

    ““The main reason I’m here is I was invited,” Paul said.”

    He also said he keeps his commitments and that he was glad to be there. Keep proper context, please!

  8. Freedomformypeople says:

    Huckabee was a huge disappointment! He sounds like Romney & Guiliani as he only spoke of a growing larger government.
    It’s important to ask yourself, “who is going to pay for this” after each candidate replies to a question.

    I have to admit that Paul really is the only small government candidate. How much longer will the American people allow to be taxed to death?