Finally, after being forced to cancel Democratic debates throughout 2007 due to a boycott staged by most of the candidates and all of those pulling significant poll numbers, a serious candidate has agreed to debate on Fox News Channel, along with four other media venues. But Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) offer is not being welcomed by top rival Barack Obama (D-IL).
According to political blog Talkingpointsmemo.com, Clinton would like to stage five one-on-one debates with Obama between now and 3/4/08, hosted by CNN, MSNBC, Allbritton Communications’ ABC-affiliated WJLA-TV Washington, ABC Network and Fox News.
Obama said he doesn’t think there is any great demand for more debates, with 18 completed already, and has said he would agree to one more (venue unspecified). He said he thinks it more important to spend time with voters.
TVBR/RBR observation: The revolt against Fox was led by John Edwards (D-NC), and was followed by most of the campaigns, with the exception of longshot publicity-starved candidates like Joe Biden (D-DE) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). It prevented a debate over the summer in Nevada and another that would have been co-hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus.
The boycott has been labeled as self-defeating by some observers, who point out that the Democratic candidates were denying themselves a chance to reach Fox loyalists who otherwise might not happen across their messages. It is possible that Clinton is prepared to make herself available to this audience in preparation for the final run to November 4, should she earn the nomination. However, if one views the election as a 50+1 game (earn half of all votes, plus one), then it is acceptable strategy to avoid expending energy and/or resources on voters who you have almost no chance of swaying to your cause.
We suspect that if Obama does eventually agree to one and only one more debate, Fox is not going to be the venue of choice.