One of the empty podiums on stage Thursday night in Baltimore.
BALTIMORE, Maryland (CNN) - There were ten podiums on the stage, but only six candidates showed up.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, all said they had scheduling conflicts and skipped Thursday night's PBS All American Presidential Forum on minority issues. The Republican candidates who participated in the debate blasted their rivals for their absence.
"Frankly, I'm embarrassed," former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said. "I'm embarrassed for our party and I'm embarrassed for those who did not come, because there's long been a divide in this country, and it doesn't get better when we don't show up."
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, said it hurts the Republican Party when candidates choose not to participate in debates.
"I want to say just at the outset, I apologize for the candidates that aren't here," Brownback said. "I think this is a disgrace that they're not here."
But moderator Tom Joyner made jokes, at their expense.
"And let me take a moment right here and now to say hello to those of you viewing from home," Joyner said. "Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Senator John McCain. Governor Mitt Romney. And Senator Fred Thompson. Well, you know, I had to call them out."
Related: Not up for debate
Related: Commentary: Why is the GOP scared of black voters?
– CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
First, there were NOT "four empty podiums," there were four vacant LECTERNS. (All the candidates stood on the podium, a raised platform, and all stood behind lecterns.) One would think people who write for a living would have a better grasp of the English language.
Second, why should a Republican waste any time on a group that typically votes against them by 90%? No conservative would waste time campaigning in Nancy Pelosi's socialist district, and no liberal would waste time campaigning in a district that consists of hard-working Americans who believe in the Constitution. Invite a Republican to a gathering of black conservatives and he'll gladly show up, but don't criticize an unarmed man for failing to appear in an arena full of hungry lions.
Hey everyone! Please check out Tom Tancredo! He stands firm on all of his views and he cares for the American people. I belive Tom would be a true leader and is one candidate that can beat Hillary. Check out his official campaign website. http://www.teamtancredo.com. GO TOM GO!!
I wonder why they would even mention the names of the guys who did not show up and not all the ones that did. The media is working so hard to get one of the absent guys elected that they would give them props for missing the debate. You wonder why the masses of people have tuned into the internet for the news turning off the TV and not reading the newspapers.
Go Ron Paul
It's obvious to me that it wasn't a snub on the debate hosts. With the top 4 Rep. candidates not being able to make it proves that. Look, people from all over schedule these debates all the time, sometimes more than one a week. The valid candidates can't go to ALL of them.
However, it is a shame that more than 90% of African-Americans vote blindly for Democrats for President. It's a shame for 90% of any race, gender or other group to vote so blindly. Heck, Hitler could probably run on the Dem ticket and still get 90% of the African-American vote.
I have to applaud your naivete on this issue. The reason that Minority voters vote Democrat on these issues is because Republicans do so well to ignore minority rights. The reason the Republican candidates skipped the debate is because they did not want to isolate the South, their main source of electoral votes. The reason we vote the way we do is because of the issues, not bipartisonism.
Get real folks, the black vote ain't gonna make or break the Presidency. Everyone who pretends to care about minority issues is a liar and just wants to be seen in a good light. The African-Americans only cause trouble anyhow so why should anyone pay attention to 'em. I agree with the comment that black folks vote blindly for Dems so why should the GOP even hold a debate highlighting minority issues? What a waste...
Take out the four front runners, and the debate is much more watchable. I'd much prefer all future debates to be this way. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are the best candidates, but Alan Keyes is an extremely charismatic speaker and Sam Brownback had a great performance as well.