FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The latest Republican presidential debate takes place here tonight, but all four of what some in the national news media call the “top-tier candidates” will not be on the stage.
Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson have all chosen not to participate in the Values Voter Debate being moderated by WND Editor Joseph Farah.
“Isn’t it amazing they all have more important things to do to get elected president than to meet face to face with Christian and Jewish leaders who represent millions and millions of votes?” asked Farah who called them “gutless wonders” in a column previewing tonight’s event.
“I tell you it is gut-wrenching fear that kept them away. They are scared to death of the questions. They’re scared to death they won’t have a good answer. They’re scared to death they might say something they will live to regret.”
Farah said he was particularly disappointed in Thompson, who has yet to participate in a single GOP debate.
“This one would have been his first opportunity since officially announcing his candidacy. He could have changed all the dynamics. He could have made this debate the biggest national news story of the day. He could have forced others to join the debate. But, he, too, had better things to do.”
The Republicans who will take part are Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, John Cox and Alan Keyes, who announced over the weekend he was officially a candidate.
Anthony Man, a political reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, suggested the lack of “top tier” candidates “may actually demonstrate the [conservative] movement’s waning influence in picking the Republican nominee and the next president.”
He quoted Hastings Wyman, founding editor of the Atlanta-based Southern Political Report, who said, “It reflects a decline in the influence of the conservative Christian movement and the social conservatives in the Republican Party.”
“I don’t think the Republican Party is going to desert that base. But I do think that the degree of influence that we may have seen in the past of the religious-political conservative coalition no longer holds true,” Wyman said.
The debate at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is produced by ValuesVoter.org, a group which says on its website “Our American values are the values that existed before time and were articulated in America’s founding document on her birthday, the 4th of July, 1776.”
The Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is the scene of the Values Voter Presidential Debate tonight. WND Editor Joseph Farah is the event’s moderator.
The three-hour event begins at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, and will be broadcast live on Sky Angel and Dish Network channel 262, and will also be streamed live on websites including ValuesVoterDebate.com and the American Family Association.
Organizers are promising “rapid-fire action” in Round Two of the debate, “where the first of its kind podium design will allow questions to be asked and answered by all seven candidates in under a minute.”
They also say “wildcard minutes” will be given to every candidate to use whenever they want, however they want – from challenging another candidate to interrupting a round of questions.
“This will be unlike any other debate,” said Star Parker, of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education, “Expect surprises on a variety of topics the press would prefer to ignore.”
Some questions have been submitted in advance from the public, with others coming from well-known figures including Paul Weyrich, founder and president of the Free Congress Foundation; Phyllis Schlafly, founder and president of Eagle Forum; Don Wildmon, founder and chairman of the American Family Association; Judge Roy Moore, a WND columnist with the Foundation for Moral Law; Rick Scarborough of Vision America; and Mat Staver of Liberty Council.
Joseph Farah is the founder, editor and chief executive officer of WND, the world’s leading independent Internet news source.
In addition, Farah writes a daily column for WND and a weekly newspaper column for Creators Syndicate. He is also the founder and co-publisher of WND Books, a publishing venture that has produced several New York Times best sellers in the last five years.
Joseph Farah made a name for himself with traditional daily newspapers prior to his founding of WorldNetDaily – running the Sacramento Union, directing the news operation of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner for six years and serving as editor in chief of a group of California dailies and weeklies.
He has written for such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Jerusalem Post, National Review, TV Guide, Reason, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times and a host of other national, international and regional publications.
Farah’s latest book is called “Stop The Presses: The Inside Story of the New Media Revolution.” He has written or collaborated on more than a dozen others, including Rush Limbaugh’s 1994 No. 1 best seller “See, I Told You So.” His previous book, “Taking America Back,” was first published in 2003 and again in paperback in 2005.
Farah’s many journalism awards include honors for reporting to writing headlines to honesty and courage in journalism to editing and newspaper design.
Farah speaks all over the world on topics ranging from the Middle East to the media to domestic policy issues.