Citing time constraints, Mitt Romney has respectfully declined to participate in Nickelodeon's upcoming "Kids Pick the President" special that is scheduled to air on Oct. 15. In her latest column, the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes attacked the decision, considering it a snub and quoting the reaction from the Obama campaign at length.
"First Big Bird, now Nickelodeon," she began. "What’s up with Mitt Romney and kids?" By contrast, President Obama -- who is known to skip daily intelligence briefings often -- couldn't be praised enough for taking time out of his own busy schedule to take part in the cable TV show.
Former NBC correspondent Linda Ellerbee has been hosting "Kids Pick the President" for the last six elections, but before that she was bashing Ronald Reagan as often as she could. The way that it works is each candidate is given the chance to answer a set of questions submitted by grade-schoolers, an online poll opens shortly thereafter. Five out of six have "predicted" the outcome thus far with the one exception being 2004, when John Kerry was favored over then president George W. Bush.
While acknowledging that Sen. John Kerry was the only other candidate to turn Nickelodeon down, de Moraes seemed to think Romney's snub is unacceptable -- going on to quote Obama's antagonizing campaign statement.
It’s no surprise Romney decided to play hookey. Kids demand details, and I’m sure they want some answers on why Romney could increase their class sizes, eliminate their teacher’s jobs, raise taxes on their families and slash funding for Big Bird. Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, ‘The dog ate my homework’ just doesn’t cut it when you’re running for president.
Back in 2008, Ellerbee said the way kids vote is important, "simply because so many kids vote the way their parents will.” That may have proven true in the past, but it doesn't change the fact that these kids can't vote. They aren't a priority in a tight election contest, where rallies in front of actual voters matter more.
It was also telling to see what these kids think are the most important issues facing the nation today, a list de Moraes displayed at the end of her so-called preview. In what could be an indication of the kinds of questions to expect, the no. 1 issue facing this country was listed as same-sex marriage. That was followed by education, health care, taxes, immigration, foreign policy, energy, and in dead last: jobs.
Regardless of why Gov. Romney couldn't make it, it's notable that although Kerry did the same thing in 2004, a Nexis search revealed no complaint from de Moraes or anyone else at the Post for that matter about him skipping out on a chance to discuss the issues with kids.