For various reasons, the majority of the Republican presidential campaigns have said they are not going to participate in a CNN debate co-sponsored with the Google-owned YouTube.com.
Despite the fact that the Democrats' YouTube debate featured left-wing questions far out of proportion to questions from the right (see NB's prior coverage of the debate here), Republican activist Patrick Ruffini is arguing the GOP is really dropping the ball. Here's an excerpt from an open letter he's attached to a petition urging the candidates to change their minds:
We've read the news reports that only two of your fellow candidates have agreed to attend the Republican Party of Florida/YouTube debate, and there are major candidates considering snubbing the event.
As Republicans, we believe this is a serious mistake. Every Democratic candidate eagerly accepted the opportunity to answer questions from the American people via YouTube, even Hillary Clinton, the most cautious and calculating of the bunch.
Attend the YouTube debate, and you may get a tough question or two. Don't attend, and millions of Americans will wonder if you were too afraid to answer questions from the Internet, just as Democrats were afraid to go on Fox News. None of you could have gotten to where you are now without showing real political courage. Is that really how you'd like to be known?
Republicans cannot write off the Internet. Thus far, the Democratic candidates have dramatically outperformed Republicans online, most alarmingly in online fundraising. We believe this is a direct result of failing to effectively engage the medium and seize the tremendous opportunity of bottom-up grassroots activism. If you approach the Internet from a position of paralyzing fear, you will be out-gunned, out-manned, and out-raised at every turn. It is fundamentally unacceptable to surrender to the Democrats on one of the most important battlefronts of this election.
And Republicans cannot write off the youth vote. A recent poll showed Democrats with a staggering 24-point advantage among 18 to 29 year old voters. Once a generation of voters is lost like this (just think of the New Deal or Reagan Generations) they are extremely difficult to get back. We are under no illusions that a YouTube debate alone can change that, but denigrating the way millions of young Americans live and communicate does not help.
We sincerely hope you will reconsider any decision to snub the critical January 29th primary state of Florida and 51 million unique YouTube users. The Republican Party is about freedom. A free and open debate that includes the American people could be just what the doctor ordered to break the stanglehold of the liberal media.
Mitt Romney thinks the questions asked to Democrats were ridiculous:
Republican Mitt Romney isn't sure yet whether he'll participate in the CNN/YouTube.com Republican debate in September, but he's no fan of the format.
"I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman," he said in an interview yesterday.
Rudy Giuliani says he has other things to do:
Front-runner Rudy Giuliani plans on skipping the YouTube Republican presidential debate on Sept. 17 because of "scheduling conflicts," campaign officials said yesterday.
"We have serious scheduling issues. That's prime fund-raising time," said a Giuliani source.
Update 16:05 | Ken Shepherd. Michelle Malkin says it pretty well:
I know. The CNN/YouTube Democrat debate was a circus. I said so. But Republicans shouldn’t sit out their turn. And conservatives shouldn’t abandon YouTube to the moonbats and jihadists. The GOP candidates should see it as an opportunity.
If the questions are stupid, say so.
If the forum is biased, say so.
Wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air to see a Republican candidate take command, show some intestinal fortitude, and kick some MSM/left-wing assets?