Wired‘s epicentre blog wanted to host a debate on technology issues between official surrogates for each campaign. Obama made former FCC chair Reed Hundt available. “But finding a campaign surrogate for McCain was not easy,” writes Wired’s Nicholas Thompson.
Carly Fiorina? Alas, she was vetoed by the campaign, ostensibly because she’s not a policy person; but almost certainly because she made a gaffe earlier in the election cycle. Former FCC chair Michael Powell? Supposedly travelling until election day — and, according to one friend of his who I spoke with, wavering in his support for McCain, just as his father, Colin, did. Meg Whitman? According to the McCain people she couldn’t possibly fly east for a debate in Washington. Funny then that she spoke at a conference in Virginia earlier this week.
Finally, the McCain campaign offered economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Wired accepted and its event soldout. But then yesterday morning, “a couple hours before the event began,” the McCain people emailed to pull Holtz-Eakin out, saying he had an unmissable meeting.
The meeting turned out to be an appearance on MSNBC.
Natch, jilted Thompson is upset. He writes:
“The McCain camp chickened out. Spinning is easy; debating is hard. And defending John McCain’s record on broadband deployment, spectrum issues, and net neutrality is particularly hard. His campaign is more interested in attacks than debates. A campaign like that deserves to lose.”
Thompson’s anger is understandable — he thought he had a deal — but let’s be real. No one showed up to defend McCain’s tech policies at Wired‘s debate not because McCain has no defenders in tech, but because the McCain campaign is running behind and it can’t spare any surrogates to talk about issues — net neutrality? spectrum what? — that will decide almost no one’s vote.
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