Patrick Ruffini blogged This is a big mistake. The Democrats are afraid to answer questions from Big Bad Fox News Anchors, and the Republicans are afraid to answer questions from regular people. Which is worse?
It's stuff like this that will set the GOP back an election cycle or more on the Internet. No matter the snazzy Web features and YouTube videos they may put up, if they're fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of interacting with real people online, what's the point?
CQ blogged I agree with Patrick that canceling the debate carries some political risk, but just as with the Democrats' snub at Fox, I think it's pretty limited. The general election will come 14 months after this debate has been scheduled. There will be plenty of time for other, more interactive debates both closer to the primaries and in the general election. Ask the Democrats if they're still feeling the damage from rejecting the Fox debate.... Even Joe Biden was disgusted with the proceedings by the time the last debate ended.
The Republican candidates should insist on major changes to the format if they agree to participate in the next debate. That should include a new selection team for the questions -- and if they really want to "embrace the Internet", perhaps they should insist on representatives from the blogosphere being a part of that process. Otherwise, CNN should pull the 86-year-old Monty Hall out of retirement and give up all pretense of serious debate.
Rick Moran blogged These people want to be President of the United States! If they can’t stand up to a little tough questioning from Democratic partisans (CNN included) how in God’s name are they going to stand up to Ahmadinejad who I guarantee will feel a helluva lot more empowered come November, 2008 than a gay guy from New York asking about gay marriage!
My opinion is that they should not do events like the You Tube debate OR the town hall "debate" which is just like a joint press conference with 8 or 10 people making short sound bite responses to stupid questions. They should have real debates between two people, where one has a couple of minutes to make a point, the other has a couple of minutes to respond, then the first gets a couple of minutes to respond to the response, then the other gets a couple of minutes to respond to that response, and then gets first shot to spend a couple of minutes making a point on something different, and ask questions of his own. If there are more than two with high enough poll ratings to be considered real contenders, then have several two person debates.
Let Hillary debate Obama, and Hillary debate Edwards, and Obama debate Edwards. Let Rudy debate Fred, and Fred debate Romney, and Romney debate McCain, etc.