For a while there, the fate of the Republican counterpart to last month's CNN-YouTube debates among Democratic presidential contenders was looking pretty bleak. But it appears that the event in St. Petersburg, Fla., will, indeed take place--albeit a few months later than planned.
CNN and YouTube on Monday issued a brief press release announcing that the candidates will be invited to take the Mahaffey Theatre's stage on November 28. As of Sunday night, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani had agreed to show up for the post-Thanksgiving event, but there was no immediate word on the others, a CNN spokeswoman said.
The date change is tied at least in part to earlier complaints from Giuliani and Mitt Romney, both considered leading candidates, who said they would not be able to make the original September 17 date because of fund-raising commitments. Four candidates--John McCain, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee and Tommy Thompson, who has since ended his run--had reportedly confirmed attendance at the earlier date.
The blogosphere may have also played a role in getting at least some candidates to rethink their attitude toward the debate. The specter of lackluster attendance ignited a grassroots campaign called "Save the Debate" among Republican bloggers, who continue to urge all of the candidates not to "write off the Internet" or the "youth vote."
"We sincerely hope you will reconsider any decision to snub the critical January 29th primary state of Florida and 51 million unique YouTube users," they said in an open letter to Romney, Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo. (The Democratic YouTube debate, which averaged 2.6 million viewers, was the second-most-watched debate of the campaign season, according to Nielsen Media Research.)
Romney, for one, has attracted attention--and, let's be honest, some outright mockery--for taking exception to the user-generated format, in part because it involved questions about global warming from an animated snowman (watch video below).
In , that snowman character, who goes by the moniker Billiam, advised the former Massachusetts governor to "lighten up slightly."
"I hope you can appreciate that no one is more qualified to ask a question about global warming than a concerned snow parent," he added in an impossibly high-pitched voice.