From the Los Angeles Times:
BALTIMORE — The lesser-known Republican presidential candidates condemned their top rivals Thursday for skipping a debate on minority issues and said their absence hurt the party’s image and amplified racial divisions.
Four empty lecterns highlighted the decisions of former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee to skip the debate at historically black Morgan State University.
“Frankly, I’m embarrassed,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in the debate, broadcast on PBS. “I’m embarrassed for our party, and I’m embarrassed for those who did not come, because there’s long been a divide in this country, and it doesn’t get better when we don’t show up.”
Their absence sparked criticism from some Republicans, particularly after the Spanish-language network Univision had to postpone its Republican forum this month because only McCain accepted its invitation.
“I apologize for the candidates that aren’t here,” said Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas. “I think it’s a disgrace for our country, I think it’s bad for our party, and I don’t think it’s good for our future.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine likened the debate to a family gathering.
“You know, when we have family reunions and some of the family members don’t show up, we do talk about them,” Hunter said.
Asked to name a Republican president since Abraham Lincoln who had created a positive legacy for black Americans, Huckabee mentioned President Eisenhower’s efforts to ensure the safety of the nine black students who desegregated schools in Arkansas in 1957.
Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado said Ronald Reagan had done something positive for all Americans by increasing liberty.
From the Baltimore Sun:
Outside the debate hall at Morgan State University, African-Americans across the political spectrum used the phrase “slap in the face” when expressing their frustration at the decision of four leading Republican presidential candidates to skip last night’s debate.
Eugene Morris and his wife flew in from Chicago to attend the nationally televised forum, which focused on issues important to minorities.
“Obviously, when we planned this trip, we had no idea the leading candidates would insult us and our community by not showing up,” said Morris, who owns a marketing and communications company. “It’s a slap in the face.”
“To say they had a scheduling conflict, it’s an insult,” said Morris, who said he is likely to vote for a Democratic candidate in the 2008 election.
Garrya S. Hatton, who calls herself a Republican “rarity” among Morgan State employees, said she was “dangerously close” to switching party affiliations because of the no-shows.
“I won’t become a liberal over this, but to not have support from people who I’ve spoken up for, it’s like a slap in the face,” said the college’s career resource coordinator and a 1998 Morgan alumna. “It’s like not being invited to dinner.”
Hatton had planned to vote for Romney but now says, “I won’t vote for anyone who won’t show up at my school.”
On campus earlier, Larry Moore, a Morgan sophomore from Boston who is inclined to vote Republican, said he was most concerned about how politicians plan to preserve Social Security.
Moore, 19, said he had intended to vote for Romney until he heard that the candidate would not be coming to Baltimore. “That says something to me, that he doesn’t care,” Moore said. “We are not the first priority on his list. Probably not the second, either.”
Oh, and one more thing. From The Dallas Morning News:
The dream of a Nov. 4 Republican presidential debate in Dallas is dead, according to local Republicans who were part of the planning process.
The debate would have been sponsored by the research arm of the Congressional Black Caucus and televised on Fox News.
But organizers were unable to get the presidential candidates on board. And the local Republican Party was lukewarm about the prospects of a group affiliated with the all-Democratic Congressional Black Caucus sponsoring a Republican debate.
“I tried to bless it, but the blessing didn’t work,” said Dallas Republican Calvin Stephens.
Chimpy and the rethugs–they sure are uniters and not dividers, huh? What the hell kind of world do we live in when Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, and Duncan Hunter can be considered the good guys, even if only for one night? Abe Lincoln weeps in his grave.