Republicans shy away from YouTube debate

Are the Republicans running scared of YouTube? So it seems.

Are the Republicans running scared of YouTube? So it seems. The Washington Post reported last week that only two candidates – John McCain and Ron Paul – have agreed to participate in the CNN/YouTube debate, in which candidates respond to user-taped questions. Although many candidates post videos to YouTube, it seems like they're not thrilled when the audience talks back.

In an interview Wednesday with the Manchester (N.H.) 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."
Among the questions already uploaded, which some candidates might not want to face head-on:
  • Erin Neaves, 25-year-old mother of three, whose husband serves in the military: "You hear a lot about supporting the troops from the Republicans, and we're not getting any kind of support from the government ..... We are getting more than 15-month deployments. We are getting cut out of our bonuses. ..... How will you support the troops?"
  • John King, a paramedic student at Cincinnati State, from Rudy Giuliani about his business, Giuliani Partners: "I'm not saying that's wrong to make money off your image, but why are you keeping it such a secret -- the clients, how much they paid you, what kind of work you did for them?"

Patrick Ruffini, former eCampaign director at the Republican National Committee, said it would "very problematic" if the Republican candidates declined.

"What's worse -- questions from the public, many of whom are supporters, or questions from the media, who many Republicans believed are biased? This is YouTube. That's not something they'd want to snub," Ruffini said.

The debate is scheduled to take place Sept. 17 in Florida, and the state Republican party is betting the candidates will fall in line before it's all over.

Said state Republican spokeswoman Erin VanSickle: "It's an important debate in an important battleground state that just moved its primary to Jan. 29th. In other words, we have every confidence that they will attend. They can't afford not to."