Character actor and former senator Fred Thompson becomes the fourth leading Republican presidential candidate to decline to participate in the PBS debate later this month at a historically black college.
Despite the absence of Thompson, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, the September 27th forum at Morgan State University in Baltimore will continue as scheduled. Each campaign cited "scheduling issues as the reason for their absence" and host Tavis Smiley says the empty lecterns on the stage will speak volumes.
"There is a pattern here," Smiley said. "When you tell every black and brown request that you get throughout the primary process that 'no, there's a scheduling problem.' That's a pattern... Are we really supposed to believe that all four of these guys couldn't make it because of scheduling?"
The Republican frontrunners' snubbing of Smiley and PBS comes on the heels of their rejection of a debate sponsored by the Spanish-language network Univision (McCain was the only GOP candidate to accept that invitation). This past June, only one Republican presidential candidate, California Rep. Duncan Hunter, showed up at the convention of the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials.
But wait, there's more. The Republican candidates initially refused to appear on he CNN/You Tube debate until it was rescheduled to November. In July, eight of the nine Republican presidential candidates snubbed the NAACP presidential forum. Last but not least, don't forget in August when the entire Republican presidential field ignored the HRC/Logo forum on gay issues.
The "Grand Old Party" certainly lives up to its name: The top tier of the Republican Party "brand" is an uninspiring field of bland, middle-aged white guys who are a throwback to the Eisenhower years. Not only do they resemble a television commercial from the 1950s—but they yearn for the politics of racial segregation that defined that era.
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