We Want Your Votes, But Not Your Questions

As we’ve chronicled several times over the last few weeks, the “Values Voter Presidential Debate” is scheduled for September 17 in Florida.  Featuring a variety of right-wing leaders, the event is designed to give Republican presidential candidates an opportunity to directly address the concerns of, and answer questions from, figures like Phyllis Schlafly, Don Wildmon, Paul Weyrich, Roy Moore, Janet Folger, and Rick Scarborough.

Unfortunately for the organizers of the event, not one of the four top GOP candidates is willing to be seen with them:

The festivities, however, look likely to go off without a marquee name. Queried yesterday by The New York Sun, the McCain campaign cited a scheduling conflict. “We are not attending,” a spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, Brooke Buchanan, replied by e-mail. “It’s the last day of the No Surrender tour — we will be in South Carolina.”

Likewise, the Romney campaign’s Florida spokeswoman, Gail Gitcho, told the Sun that the former Massachusetts governor had “declined due to a scheduling conflict.”

Mr. Thompson’s press office also is citing “another event on his calendar that day.”

The Giuliani camp didn’t even bother with the scheduling-conflict ruse, providing the Sun with the text of a letter the former mayor’s campaign manager, Michael DuHaime, sent to the debate’s organizers on Friday. “Thank you for your kind invitation for Mayor Giuliani to attend a presidential debate hosted by Values Voters,” Mr. DuHaime wrote. “Unfortunately Mayor Giuliani will be unable to accept your invitation.”

Undoubtedly, that snub is not sitting well with them – and it is probably only being made worse by this:

Today FRC Action announced that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will speak in a prime-time slot at the Washington Briefing 2007: Values Voter Summit on Friday evening, October 19.

So Romney is willing to show up at a “values voters” event hosted by the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Values and others that features the likes of Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Robert Knight, and Richard Land but won’t have anything to do with the other Values Voter folks?  

It seems as if Romney is willing to accept an invitation to speak to right-wing leaders and activists but is unwilling to actually take questions from them.  While FRC and FOF tend to be considered more “reputable” right-wing groups than the Eagle Forum or Vision America, there is, in actuality, no substantive difference between the views, rhetoric, or mission of these groups.  In fact, several of the participants in the Values Voter Debate are also participating in FRC’s Values Voter Summit, including Star Parker, Bobby Schindler, and Phyllis Schlafly.

So why is it that Romney is willing to pander to the Right at the Values Voter Summit, but is unwilling to actually answer questions from them at the Values Voter Debate? 

Could it be because, while they want their support, they hope to achieve it in a way that allows them to avoid publicly pandering to them by answering questions such as “Do you believe the Ten Commandments should be posted on public property?” or “Do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?”