Mitt’s Skipping a Crucial Debate

Word just came out that Mitt Romney has decided not to participate in a long-scheduled debate on March 1, just a few days before Super Tuesday. Romney’s campaign has not yet confirmed the news, but a spokesman for the Georgia Republican Party, who is sponsoring the debate along with CNN, says that “word was passed along to CNN this morning” by the campaign. CBS news and National Journal report that Romney is blaming this absence on a scheduling conflict. If these reports are true, this is a seriously lame excuse from Romney. Even if he did have a scheduling conflict, he has more than two weeks to move things around to make it to the debate. The GOP debates have been must-see events that attract massive audiences, so why would Romney possibly consider missing one just before crucial Super Tuesday?

I believe Romney simply doesn’t want to participate. As a front-runner he walks into debates with a target on his back. Santorum, who is Romney’s main rival right now, has proven himself to be pretty good in debates. Through the other debates, Santorum has learned exactly where Romney’s weaknesses are and, therefore, just where to attack him. From Romney’s perspective it would be best to not have to worry about potential debate slip-ups and just use his huge financial advantage to slam Santorum with negative ads.

Skipping this debate could have serious negative consequences on the Romney campaign. With Santorum’s numbers surging and Romney’s crashing, Romney’s debate boycott looks terrible. He appears to be a candidate who is afraid to face his opponents. This will give Santorum new fodder in his efforts to paint Romney as a candidate who has nothing to offer but a deep bankroll and negative ads. It’s strange because Romney is actually pretty good in debates. He has had no major slip-ups and will probably face more hardship for skipping the debate than he would have gotten from his opponents if he actually showed up.

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