WASHINGTON (CNN) - While members of the Republican National Committee will not be present at next week's Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, the GOP is looking for a "virtual" seat in the arena.
In an appeal posted on its Web site, the RNC has called on its members to submit video questions via YouTube for the debate being sponsored by CNN, YouTube and the South Carolina Democratic Party. A cartoon posted on the RNC Web site depicts a young man sporting an elephant shirt trying to ask a question of the three Democratic frontrunners: New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
The caption underneath the cartoon reads: "Tired of Democrats Dodging the Questions That Really Matter? Click Here To Find Out How To Have Your Questions Answered Live During the Democrat Debate on July 23."
The debate will break new ground because all of the main questions will be posed to the candidates by voters who recorded the queries and posted them on http://www.YouTube.com. A CNN editorial team has been sorting through the questions for weeks and the public will not know what questions will be asked of the candidates until the videos air on CNN that night. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will moderate the 7 p.m.-9 p.m. ET debate which will be held in Charleston.
CNN and YouTube will host a similar debate for Republicans on Sept. 17 in Florida. Further details including the host city will be announced on Friday.
- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston