NAACP Candidate Forum – several candidates MIA

Looks like a few candidates have discovered that being a full-time politician and a full-time candidate for president can be tough.

As many as four of the nine candidates have refused to participate in the forum, expressing reluctance to appear on stage with their rivals in a debate format, NAACP officials said.

The four — Edwards, Lieberman, Graham and Kucinich — drew considerable heat from Kweisi Mfume (NAACP President) and Julian Bond (NAACP Chairman):

Mfume: “If you can’t come to the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization’s national conference to lay out what you believe in and the direction you think our country should go in, you certainly have no legitimacy going into black communities asking for votes. If you can’t do a forum where you’re simply asked a question and asked to respond, the question is can you really lead?”

Bond: “Those who do come demonstrate as much by their presence as by their words that they’re interested in what this audience has to say. Their absence says the contrary.”

Think this next paragraph might haunt the Kerry and Edwards campaigns?

According to NAACP officials, at least two campaigns — Kerry and Edwards — were involved in intense negotiations with the organization late Saturday, urging it to prevent a format in which the candidates appeared together.

How about the flap with Edwards: he asked the NAACP to change the date of the candidate forum to accommodate his schedule; the NAACP complied, only to have him again refuse to come.

As of late yesterday Edwards and Kerry have agreed to participate.

At least we know what they’re afraid of. (Just in case you’re wondering, it’s not Sharpton.) Can’t wait to see the soundbites that come out of this forum…

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