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Romney May Debate After All

Mitt Romney snubbing the CNN-YouTube debate?

. . .Not so fast.

CNN Washington Bureau Chief David Bohrman, the mastermind behind the CNN-YouTube marriage, spoke with Romney's campaign late yesterday. CNN says the former Massachusetts governor may participate if the debate, scheduled for Sept. 17 in St. Petersburg, Fla., can be pushed back.

Romney had told C-SPAN in an interview Friday that he would not participate in the debate.

But Romney, as it happens, is a busy YouTuber. He was one of the first presidential candidates to have a YouTube channel, joining six months ago. As of Saturday, he has 235 videos on his channel -- more than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama combined.

In the meantime, conservative bloggers started an online pettion yesterday, on SaveTheDebate.com. "Some Republicans are talking about ditching the long-planned YouTube debate, like the Democrats and Fox News," the site reads. "As concerned Republicans, we respectfully ask them to reconsider. Republicans cannot surrender to Democrats on any front -- least of all new media -- or we may well lose in 2008."

Looks like Romney, who's aggressive in using YouTube to connect with voters, could be pressured into this.

In the C-SPAN interview, Romney said he would be in New York on Sept. 17, and that the debate did not show the proper respect for the process of selecting a presidential nominee.

In an interview with Steve Scully, Romney said all the candidates will be racing to the end of the third-quarter fundraising deadline at the end of September.

"During September, we are all scrambling around to raise money we need to run our campaigns," Romney said. "We will have had four debates by then."

Asked about the format, which featured video questions submitted by the public, Romney said "There is a degree of respectfulness that ought to be associated with the process fo selecting a nominee. From what I've heard, that level of respectfulness was breached."

Romney took special exception to a question about global warming, posed by a snowman in one of the video questions. "I don't know that it makes sense to have people running for president answering questions posed from snowmen."

So far, only Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) are participating in the debate, which is scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg, Florida.

In the interview, Romney also lashed out at Barack Obama for saying he would meet with the leaders of adversarial nations. The comments have sparked a war of words between Obama and his chief rival, Hillary Clinton.

"It really shows that Barack Obama is out of his depth on this issue," Romney said. "There are people, who ... are such tyrants that we do not dignify them with the presence of the President of the United States. Do we talk to them? Of course. You want to keep lines of communication open. But you do not have a presidential visit, particularly in the first year."

Asked whether Obama is qualified to be president, Romney called the comments "a major misstatement and misstep" and said they were "simply a gaffe of a nature that I think it's going to be very hard for Barack Obama to overcome."

--Jose Antonio Vargas and Michael D. Shear

By Post Editor  |  July 28, 2007; 2:40 PM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Mitt Romney  
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