Clinton, Obama to Skip Fox-Sponsored Debate

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) yesterday joined former North Carolina senator John Edwards (D) in deciding to skip a debate scheduled for September that Fox News is co-sponsoring with the Congressional Black Caucus.

Liberal activists, particularly the online group, have called for Democratic presidential candidates not to participate in debates by Fox, which they say is biased against Democrats. Clinton campaign aides said she would participate only in the six events sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee and two other events she had already agreed to. Several candidates, including Edwards, last month withdrew from a debate that Fox was co-hosting with the Nevada Democratic Party and would have taken place in August in Reno.

Aides to Obama, Edwards and Clinton said the candidates will participate in a debate that the Congressional Black Caucus is co-sponsoring with CNN in January in South Carolina.

"CNN seemed like a more appropriate venue," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in explaining his campaign's decision.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), who used to head the Congressional Black Caucus, called the decision by Obama "unfortunate." Cummings noted that many Democratic presidential candidates, including Edwards, participated in two debates that the caucus put on with Fox in the 2004 primary process.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.

Giuliani, McCain Virtually Even in South Carolina Poll

A new South Carolina poll shows former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) running neck and neck, with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) trailing but still in double digits.

Giuliani took 26 percent of the vote to 25 percent for McCain and 14 percent for Romney in the survey, conducted by Fox News/Opinion Dynamics from April 1 to April 3. It tested 600 South Carolina primary voters and carried a 4 percent margin of error.

Aside from Giuliani, McCain and Romney, no Republican candidate scored in double digits. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) was the best of the rest, with 5 percent.

As interesting as the hypothetical primary matchup were the sky-high approval ratings registered by President Bush. Seventy percent of the sample said they approved of the job Bush is doing, compared with 23 percent who disapproved.

Iraq was the most important issue to South Carolina Republicans, with 37 percent citing it as their primary concern. No other issues were cited by more than 7 percent of those polled.

South Carolina will hold its Republican presidential primary on Feb. 2.

-- Chris Cillizza

New York Moves Presidential Primary to Feb. 5

New York became the latest in a growing list of states that will hold their presidential primary on Feb. 5, putting pressure on candidates to spend time and money in the large and expensive state.

"Moving the primary date to February, we will help secure New York's large and diverse population an influential voice in selecting the 2008 presidential nominees," said Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer (D), who signed legislation moving the date.

California, New Jersey and several other states moved their primaries to Feb. 5; more than a dozen others, including Florida, are considering it.

In a poll by Quinnipiac University released last week, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) led former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) in a hypothetical general-election matchup, 50 percent to 42 percent. She trumped the other leading GOP contender, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), 55 percent to 34 percent. Giuliani tied with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), at 44 percent apiece.

The poll was conducted March 28-April 2 with 1,548 New York state voters and had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

-- Zachary A. Goldfarb

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