Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fox Debate Collapses With Sen. Obama's Refusal to Participate

Obama Won't Attend Fox-Sponsored Debate


WASHINGTON (April 9) - Sen. Barack Obama will not participate in a Democratic presidential debate this fall co-hosted by Fox News Channel, making him the second candidate to snub the cable network.

An Obama aide said the Illinois senator had no plans to attend the Sept. 23 debate in Detroit that Fox agreed to co-sponsor with the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute.

Obama will take part in a different debate hosted by the institute and CNN in January.

"CNN seemed like a more appropriate host," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said.

Obama's decision comes three days after former Sen. John Edwards, another Democratic presidential candidate, announced he was pulling out of the Fox-sponsored debate.

Without Edwards or Obama, the debate would lack two marquee contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Democrats have been under pressure from liberal activists to avoid Fox-hosted debates. Last month, the Nevada Democratic Party canceled a debate that Fox was to co-sponsor in August. Democratic critics complain that the network displays a conservative bias in its news broadcasts.

"The debates are still scheduled as announced," said Candice Tolliver, a spokeswoman for the CBC Institute.

The institute, a nonprofit group whose directors include members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Fox News announced an agreement nearly two weeks ago to air Republican and Democratic presidential debates. But activists, including civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, almost immediately called on Democrats to pull out.

Last week, the Democratic National Committee sanctioned six debates before the 2008 primary season, but did not include the Fox-CBC Institute debate among them.

James Rucker, head of ColorOfChange.org, an online organization of black activists, on Monday urged Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democratic presidential candidates to join Edwards and Obama.

Calls by the Associated Press to Fox were not immediately returned.

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