Republican presidential candidates have recently drawn scrutiny for refusing to attend debates hosted by minority groups.Political correspondent Jake Tapper, who has covered this issue in print, told ABC News that none of the front-runners will be at a debate this Thursday hosted by PBS's Tavis Smiley. "What does it say when you don't think that all of us are valuable in this process?" Smiley asked.
"I think it's a huge mistake, strategically," conservative black former Congressman J.C. Watts told Tapper.The Spanish-language channel Univision has already canceled its proposed debate because John McCain was the only Republican candidate who agreed to attend.
ABC host Robin Roberts spoke with Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who has criticized the candidates' decision. Roberts pointed out that the GOP is known to need at least 10% of the black vote to win presidential elections and also counts on a share of the Hispanic vote. "So why are Republicans so reluctant to talk to minorities?" she asked.
"I actually don't know," Gingrich replied, praising Governor Huckabee and the other candidates who did agree to attend Smiley's debate and insisting there was no reason for Republicans not to appeal to African-American voters on the issues of education, violent crime, and jobs. "I think it's a mistake," he concluded. "I wish they would change their mind."