Four days after the Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C,. more than 400 questions directed to the GOP presidential field have been uploaded on YouTube -- targeted at Republicans scheduled to get their turn at videopopulism on Sept. 17.
But so far, only Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) have agreed to participate in the debate, co-hosted by Republican Party of Florida in St. Petersburg.
Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney, both with dozens of videos on their YouTube channels, have not signed up. Neither have the rest of the Republican candidates, including Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.), whose "Tancredo Takes" on his YouTube channel draw hundreds of views. Sources familiar with the Guiliani campaign said he's unlikely to participate...
In an interview Wednesday with the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader, Romney said he's not a fan of the CNN/YouTube format. Referring to the video of a snowman asking the Democratic candidates about global warming, Romney quipped, "I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman."
Very telling. You figure there might a whole mess of questions from Republican primary voters that certain GOP frontrunners don't want to answer? Or that the "Republican primary voter" is a breed that the GOP doesn't want the rest of the country to see?
Josh Marshall's gotten some reader comments, and has posted a couple of good points.
The first one:
You realize why Rudy doesn't like the YouTube debate format, right? He doesn't want the NY fire fighter's to get a clean shot at him on national TV.
Probably true. One can only imagine the reaction of the FDNY posting a scathing video demolishing Rudy's 9/11 cred, how he could possibly answer it, and what that would do to his numbers. Remember, 9/11 is his campaign. That's all he's got. And what are the moderators gonna do, not air the video from the friggin' FDNY? The scandal would probably cause such a ruckus that everyone would end up hearing about it and seeing the video on the Nightly News instead!
Here's the second one:
One of the thoughts that occurred to me with regards to the Democratic Youtube debate was how weird the questions for the GOP candidates could potentially be...As far as issues like illegal immigration and "coercive interrogation techniques" go, how does one ask questions like this in a Youtube format in an amusing way? The differences between the GOP base and the political mainstream can seem less extreme when asked by someone like Wolf Blitzer, but if presented from the standard GOP rank-and-file member of the base, it seemed like a great way to show how unhinged the GOP has become on some of these issues. Personally, I'm surprised the GOP ever got close to agreeing to this format, and once the Democratic debate happened and showed the format in action, I didn't see how it could have been pulled off by the GOP.
I agree that the Republican base, right now, is much farther from independents than the Democratic base, but I kinda think the moderators could weed out the less reasonable-sounding ones. I bet one could find the vids on Youtube (perhaps there's a specific category for the GOP debate? One would think so.) and look for oneself, but I don't really want to subject myself to that.
For what it's worth, I happen to think a debate between a floundering, desperate John McCain and a surging, confident Ron Paul could be fascinating to watch. Romney does contribute some great gag-lines, like "There is a global jihadist movement ... And they've come together as Shi'a and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda with that intent" and "I'm pro-life," but other than that everyone else is just a waste of oxygen in these things anyway.