On September 27, the LBJ Library and the Carver Public Library will be hosting a watch party and moderated discussion of the Tavis Smiley All-American Presidential Forum with the Republican Candidates.
This just in from ABC News Sneak Peek:
There will be five empty podiums on stage at the All-American Presidential Forum on PBS Thursday night at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.
The top Republican candidates (Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John McCain) all will be absent from the minority-issue-centered forum at the historically black college, citing scheduling conflicts. Tom Tancredo backed out after forum organizers included Alan Keyes.
That leaves Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, Sam Brownback and Keyes to debate each other and take questions from moderator Tavis Smiley at 9:00 pm ET.
The decision to skip the forum has opened the leading Republican candidates to criticism that they are turning their backs on minority voters and ignoring their concerns.
“What does it say when you don’t think that black issues and brown issues and issues for red and yellow – what does it say when you don’t think that all of us are valuable in this process?” Smiley asked recently on “The Tonight Show.”
Potential candidate Newt Gingrich told Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts that he thinks skipping the debate is a mistake by the frontrunners.
“I think it’s a mistake. I wish they would change their mind,” Gingrich said Tuesday. “They still have a few days. And I wish that they would, in fact, go to the debate on Thursday night.”
Quite honestly, I’m not sure we’ll have participants out in much more force to watch the forums at the LBJ Library and the Carver Library in Austin. This message from my colleague at the Carver Library, “Not as much enthusiasm for this debate as the previous one. We’ll make sure to post the flyers and see what happens!”
The early enthusiasm over the Democratic All-American Presidential Forum Watch Party was so high that I initiated a registration process to make sure we would have enough space and food. So far I have only five registrants. I’ve lowered the catering order from 40 to 20.
Perhaps our reach does not extend to those interested in the Republican platform, although we distribute our invitations widely. Perhaps the public is worn down already from the campaign and weary of forums. Perhaps they’ve already made up their mind and are ready to move beyond the primary. Perhaps their just worn down by the game of politics. I refuse to believe that they just don’t care. Perhaps they just aren’t hearing anything new that inspires hope and a sense of possibility. Who’s telling us we can go to the moon? Who’s tapping into our dreams?
The emphasis on domestic issues outlined in the Covenant with Black America are the framework for the questions that will be posed by three journalists.
But these are not just “Black Issues”. They are domestic issues of grave concern to many of us – education, health care, justice, affordable housing, voting, economic prosperity. By choosing NOT to participate, are these candidates sending us a message that these issues are not important enough to discuss on a prime time public television station in response to questions posed by these notable journalists?
September 27, 2007, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD.
Ray Suarez is a Washington-based Senior Correspondent who joined The NewsHour in October 1999. Suarez has thirty years of varied experience in the news business.
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Cynthia Tucker is the editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist whose work appears in dozens of newspapers. She is also a popular television commentator.
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Juan Williams is the Senior Correspondent for National Public Radio and Political Analyst for the Fox News Channel. He is a regular panelist on the weekly news affair program Fox News Sunday.
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Oh, and did I also mention that there will be 20 credentialed bloggers at the event reacting in real time PLUS Texas Forums members adding their voice to the PBS bloggers site hosted by Media Bloggers Association? How are we citizen bloggers supposed to interpret the “no shows”. To be fair, perhaps they are “no shows” because WE may be “no shows”. I hope they are wrong and we run out of food and our little fingers fly off the keyboards blogging our responses. I can live with that outcome. You can bet it’ll be in full day, last minute, full press!