Included in the latest viewership numbers were 407,000 viewers in the coveted adults 18-34 demographic, which topped the previous record of 368,000 for the New Hampshire debate. Both are higher than the previous record holders, CNN's February 15, 2000, GOP debate (357,000), Fox News Channel's January 22, 2004, Democratic candidates debate (340,000) and MSNBC's South Carolina debate on April 26, 2007 (327,000).
When you add together that people can watch the debate at their leisure (it'd be nice if YouTube would post how many folks have), and the fact that almost 3,000 people submitted questions, few can argue that the event wasn't a huge success in engaging the public.
As great as I think the YouTube Democratic Debate was is how pathetic I think it is that the Republican front runners are bailing on their YouTube debate. Mitt Romney has formally declined, and Rudy Giuliani has something better to do than take questions from voters.
Speaking in his own defense, Mitt Romney has been quoted in a number of stories saying that getting asked about global warming by an animated snowman was demeaning to the candidates. Does Mitt Romney have any idea what kind of time it took to animate that sequence? It's not like it's not a question on a lot of people's minds and one that you will be asked, what's wrong with it being asked creatively? What part of people going out of their way to be involved in the process is demeaning to Romney's apparently overly delicate ego?
None of the questions were something a candidate for President in either party shouldn't already know their answer to. It's not like the Republican field has to take the "are you black" or "are you woman" enough questions. They've already covered their view on evolution in a previous debate, and lightning seemed to strike the building when Giuliani was talking about his social views. What, they don't want to have to say something nice about the person standing to their right?
Even though I can understand the reason, I don't respect our Representative Scott Garrett for his lack of willingness to debate. With this being one of the biggest Presidential elections in 100 years, I certainly won't vote for a coward for President. I tend to pick one or two candidates from each party to follow with the idea I'll eventually volunteer in the get out the vote operations (yes, I've done both parties in the same year). One of my picks is one of those disrespecting voters, and there are no words for how utterly disappointed I am in this position.
If the Republican Party wants people to take them seriously again, they need to meet people where they are at, and embrace the opportunity to engage young voters. You're going to get questions about Iraq, health care, gas prices, immigration, Bush, corruption, the economy, education and probably a question about faith in politics. If you have answers people may not like, but they're how you really feel, people will respect that. If you don't have answers, get out of the race.
I'm looking forward to seeing Senator John McCain and Representative Ron Paul on September 17th, and would hope CNN wouldn't reschedule for Giuliani and Romney if they don't want to embrace people they hope will vote for them. Forget them. The forum is there, if Giuliani and Romney are too disrespectful or afraid of voters to attend that's their own problem that voters will remember. Debate on, with or without the frightened ones.