Flightsuit boy is trying to run out the clock on the debates :
The commission that proposed three presidential candidate debates says time is running out for the Bush and Kerry campaigns to agree on details so organizers can finalize their plans.
The Commission on Presidential Debates last week sent a letter to the two campaigns asking for a meeting about their concerns, but has heard nothing back.
. . .
The commission needs 10 days’ time to produce its first proposed debate, Brown said. The other two presidential debates are scheduled for Oct. 8 and Oct. 13, with a vice presidential debate set for Oct. 5.
Sen. John Kerry’s campaign agreed in August to the all venues, dates and moderators proposed by the commission, but President Bush’s campaign has not said whether it will agree.
This quote, from a different article, really rubs me the wrong way :
The Kerry campaign wants three debates but Republican officials have said Bush wants to limit the number to two and that the one which could be axed is the Oct. 8 session in St. Louis, which would have questions from undecided voters.
“Two is enough for the American people to make a judgment, but at the same time it doesn’t overwhelm the entire fall campaign,” said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist.
Okay reporters, here’s a follow-up question for you : “What is the Bush administration doing for ‘the entire fall campaign’ that’s more important than informing the voters of this country where they stand and what their plans are for the future?”
I wish the Commission on Presidential Debates would grow a pair and follow this recommendation :
Here?s a modest proposal for the Commission on Presidential Debates: Stop negotiating right now.
Inform both campaigns that the commission will be sponsoring three debates, the times, dates, and formats of which have already been announced. There will be a seat and a nameplate for each candidate; if only one of them shows up, he gets to answer the moderator?s questions all by himself for 90 minutes, while the cameras show an empty chair where his opponent ought to be.
Kerry has already agreed to the three-debate schedule, and if the commission places its imprimatur on the event he will show up. This puts the Republicans in a dilemma: either allow Kerry 90 minutes of uninterrupted access to voters nationwide, or put President Bush on stage with him.
Most of the major broadcast networks indicated last week that they have not finalized coverage plans for the debates, but all seem prepared to give them significant airtime. ABC spokesperson Julie Summersgill said that the network would devote two hours of prime-time programming per debate to each of the commission?s three events.
Asked what the network would do if the president failed to show up for a debate, but John Kerry did, she said, ?You tell me what the debate commission says about it, and I?ll tell you what we?ll do.?
The major television networks may not always acquit themselves perfectly when they cover presidential elections, but one thing they have an unerring nose for is high political theater. A commission-sponsored debate between a major-party candidate and his opponent?s empty chair would be too much to resist.
Word of the day : George W. Bush is a poltroon for failing to share a stage with his opponent and defend his record.
UPDATE : Here’s some internals from the latest Pew poll that show just how important these debates are :
The tightening race underscores the stakes for both candidates in the upcoming presidential debates. The public remains highly engaged in the campaign: 71% say they have given a lot of thought to the election and 40% are following election news very closely, up from just 22% four years ago.
This increased attentiveness is carrying over into heightened interest in the debates. Six-in-ten voters (61%) say it is very likely they will watch the debates between Bush and Kerry, which is significantly higher than debate interest in the last two elections.
Hope you undecided voters are paying attention to the “debate on the debates”. One side wants to highlight the differences and talk about the issues, the other side wants to hide out with his pre-screened audience and hope all the scary questions go away.