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.
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 TaÃno 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.