GOP Frontrunners Blow Off Debates
Steve Benen reports that all four of the top contenders for the Republican nomination were no-shows at the “Values Voter Debate” sponsored by WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah and attended by several top Christian Conservative luminaries. The most interesting comment of the night (or, at least the most interesting in Steve’s post about the night):
Religious right leader Janet Folger was unrestrained in threatening those who neglected to participate in the debate. To those who “had something more important to do than talk to those of us who represent God’s principles,” Folger had a prediction: “Those who snubbed us, they will not win…. They will regret the decision.”
What that says about the power of the social conservative leadership and the calculations of the candidates is open to interpretation. While Steve’s suggestion that this is evidence of the decline of the movement, I’d note this comes right on the heels of the same candidates blowing off Tavis Smiley’s PBS forum directed at black voters.
Maybe the real lesson is that the top tier Republicans are incredibly risk averse? They may well have calculated that going to any debate that’s hosted by or aimed at a particular niche demographic is dangerous. Or, perhaps they’ve just decided that debating, period, is a poor use of their time at this stage of the campaign.
Conversely, the Democrats same to be game for debating anywhere at any time, having shown up for debates for gays, blacks, and others. [Commenter Wayne observes, “Except for Fox News.” True that.] The extent to which this means they’re more confident or simply reflects the nature of their coalition is hard to say.