Bipartisan Boycotts

The majority of Democratic presidential candidates have been criticized – even by sympathetic soul Keith Olbermann – for their refusal to participate in a September debate to be broadcast on Fox News Channel.

It's starting to look like boycotts may be a bipartisan trend.

The Washington Post reports today that the September GOP CNN/YouTube debate – the Democrats' one this week was all the rage, just ask CNN
– has received only two RSVPs from the Republican field: Ron Paul and John McCain.

Rudolph W. 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 Giuliani campaign said the former New York mayor is unlikely to participate. Kevin Madden, Romney's spokesman, said the former Massachusetts governor has seven debate invitations over a span of 11 days in September.

"We haven't committed to any of them yet," Madden said.

In an interview Wednesday with the New Hampshire 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."

Whether it's Frosty or Jim Lehrer asking the questions, these nationally-televised debates are a singular chance to reach potential voters. Candidates who give them the cold shoulder lose the opportunity to make their own case and voluntarily hand opponents the chance to misportray them.