The Republican Party and Fox News have decided to appease Mitt Romney who decided not to attend, and instead of letting the debate go on, they canceled it.
Fox/Iowa GOP debate off, Romney blamed
The Iowa Republican Party announced today that the debate they had planned in concert with Fox is now off. It was to be December 4th.
The press release issued by the party said it had been cancelled due to unspecified "candidate scheduling conflicts." But in a statement at the bottom of the release, Iowa GOP executive director Chuck Laudner appears to pin the blame on just one.
"It is too bad that a candidate wouldn't want to take advantage of this kind of debate with representation from all 99 Iowa counties in the audience, let alone the fact FOX News Channel has had the most viewers of any debate," Laudner said.
Per some unhappy Iowa Republican sources, that candidate is Mitt Romney. The state party had been waiting to hear on both Romney and Rudy Giuliani (with either assumedly waiting on the other). When they got word that the poll-leader in the state wouldn't attend, they decided to pull the plug altogether. Asked about the decision not to take part, Romney's campaign provided the letter they sent to Fox declining to participate.
In it, Romney counsel and adviser Ben Ginsberg notes that they have already taken part in three Fox debates and that there are "a plethora of other debates in Iowa."
The Republicans took part in an ABC debate in Des Moines in August and will almost certainly participate in a Des Moines Register/Iowa Public Televison forum leading up to the caucuses.
But this was to be the state party's own event -- and on what amounts to the GOP's station of record.
Romney and the other leading candidates are, of course, in a difficult spot. They want to limit the number of debates they're particpating in, but that inevitably means offending some.
Iowans guard their first-in-the-nation perogatives fiercely and don't take kindly when they're not accorded the respect (some would say obeisance) they demand. And this is at least the third back-of-the-hand they've gotten this year.
Perhaps most seriously, Romney was the only top tier (at the time) candidate to take part in the Ames Straw Poll -- an event the state party relies heavily on for fundraising. Then, Romney, Giuliani and McCain all skipped the party's Reagan Dinner earlier this month. This especially stung after all the Democratic hopefuls, along with 9,000 activists and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, jammed into a large arena last weekend in Des Moines for their state party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. http://sianews.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3292