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A GOP "Snub"?

9:36 AM, Sep 28, 2007 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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Last night on PBS, Tavis Smiley hosted a debate on minority issues. The Republican candidates for president were invited, and only six of them showed up: Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Sam Brownback, and, yes, Alan Keyes, whose current profession seems to be running for offices of which he has absolutely no chance of winning.

Since the four candidates who are most likely to be the GOP nominee did not show up, however--Romney, Thompson, Giuliani, and McCain--conventional wisdom seems to be congealing around the idea that the debate was a horrible poke in the eye of minority voters and consigned the GOP to defeat in 2008. For an example, you can read David Yepsen's take here.

An editorial in the San Diego-Union Tribune makes this point:

With their support for freedom and economic fairness, Republicans have a message that those voters need to hear. Ronald Reagan understood that, and so did George W. Bush. Both men did very well with Hispanic voters. But you can't share the message if you don't even begin the dialogue. And for some reason, many in the current crop of Republican presidential candidates are staying away from specialized debates that might give them an opportunity to speak directly to Hispanic and African-American voters.

Um, maybe this is just me, but isn't this hyperbole? Are minority voters going to decide to vote against the GOP nominee next year because he didn't take questions from Tavis Smiley? Isn't it far more likely that those voters will base their decisions on their own evaluations of the individual candidates' strengths and weaknesses, their own partisan loyalties, and the Republican and Democratic nominees' policy positions?

We live in a 24-hour news cycle. Every story is deemed the most important story ever, until it is discarded in favor of the next most important story ever. But the idea that the GOP's relationship with minority voters will be decided on the basis of one debate broadcast on PBS is just silly.