The Democratic debate hosted by Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute threatens to be 90 minutes of bad TV, a planned presidential forum without the big-name candidates, a political event with few politicians.
Only three candidates, mostly lesser-knowns at that, have agreed to show up. The Big Three -- Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) -- said several months ago that they would not debate on the network that many Democrats believe tilts far to the right.
But organizers, including prominent members of the black caucus, are not ready to admit defeat. They still hope to entice (or shame) the front-runners into attending and, failing that, to devise an alternate format to add zest to the show beyond the lengthy discourses of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) and former Sen. Mike Gravel (Alaska).
"We're moving forward no matter what. We're definitely having a debate in Detroit in September," said CBC Chairwoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, who serves on the institute's board and represents Detroit in Congress. "We may change the format. We might have more than just the presidential candidates," she said.