I keep hearing about how the biggest problem the nine Democratic presidential candidates have is they are “unknown” to the American people.

There’s no question about it.

They are largely unknown.

But I don’t think they are serious about wanting to make themselves known – not if it means subjecting themselves to real scrutiny and answering tough questions.

That’s the only conclusion I can draw from my spurned invitations to all nine remaining candidates to appear on my nationally syndicated radio program any time – at their convenience. Not one of the Democratic candidates has accepted the offer to be interviewed by me.

Even while they are meeting with small groups of voters and doing countless dog-and-pony shows in the key primary states, they all refuse to mix it up with an experienced journalist on live radio before hundreds of thousands of listeners.

I suspect I’m not the only radio talk-show host who has been spurned by the Democratic presidential candidates.

Why do you suppose that is? What possible excuse could there be for passing up an opportunity to be heard by so many people – unedited, unexpurgated, unfiltered? Why would nine candidates all lingering in relative political obscurity, complaining about not being able to get their message out, turn down invitations like mine?

The answer is simple.

They are all afraid.

Not necessarily of me – more likely they are afraid of themselves and what they might say or do in an uncontrolled media environment. They understand they are all capable of self-destruction when they are asked tough questions. Frankly, they seldom get tough questions from the establishment political press – and they like that.

They don’t want to leave their comfort zone. They don’t really want to discuss their views in a free-flowing format. What they really want is free face time. What they really want is free media without risk. What they really want is the ability to project an image. What they really want is to be able to pass off their pre-digested sound bites as well-conceived, thoughtful policy positions. What they don’t want is to be challenged.

Despite all that, I want to issue the challenge once again – very publicly. We will continue to invite the Democratic presidential candidates to appear on my national radio show. We issue that invitation again here and now so the American people can be aware of the opportunity extended to them.

This is free media exposure. Candidates will only have to answer questions from me and my listeners. Why should that be a problem for any of them?

Shouldn’t a future president be courageous enough to answer tough questions from an experienced journalist and real, engaged Americans with legitimate concerns about the future of our country?

By the way, I should add the program is heard in all the early primary states – including New Hampshire.

I offer this public challenge just so the American people can be aware of the opportunities before the Democratic presidential candidates. I offer this public challenge to remove all the excuses they might have about how hard it is to get media attention. I offer this public challenge in a last-ditch effort to shame at least some of the Democratic presidential candidates into facing up to their fears of the American people.

Ladies and gentlemen, write me. Call me. Let’s discuss the big issues of the day forthrightly in front of the American people. No more excuses. Let’s give the American people a chance to get to know you – the real you, the spontaneous you, the unfiltered you.

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