Bill Clinton and the major Republican candidates for president are thus far snubbing a CityVote forum on Sunday in Spokane.
But the organizer of the presidential straw poll said the debate will continue as scheduled, with veteran newsman Sander Vanocur moderating a discussion on environmental issues.
Jesse Jackson and Republican contender Alan Keyes will attend, as will five lesser-known candidates, said Larry Agran, executive director of CityVote.
The only nominal Democrat attending will be Lyndon LaRouche, who is making his sixth run for president. The national Democratic Party has complained that LaRouche is not really a member of the party, and he himself refers to himself as an independent Democrat.
The forum will provide a meaningful dialogue for the candidates who attend, the audience in the Ag Trade Center and viewers around the nation who can watch the 90-minute event on cable television, he said.
The presidential campaigns are giving the straw poll and the debate mixed reviews. Spokesmen for the “big name” candidates are generally antagonistic to the concept.
K.B. Fletcher, deputy press secretary for Republican Pat Buchanan, said the Nov. 7 ballot effort “is collapsing because of a lack of organization,” and Buchanan would not attend the Spokane forum.
“CityVote does not appeal to the groups we are approaching to get a winning coalition,” Fletcher said.
But Nat Jackson, campaign manager for Republican candidate Art Fletcher, called CityVote “the wave of the future” because it gives a voice to urban residents, who make up the majority of the nation’s population. Fletcher, a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, is a former candidate for lieutenant governor in Washington state.
“You can’t be overly critical in the first stage,” Nat Jackson said. “The big name candidates want to set their strategy and appear only in the areas where they can control things.”
Agran said the CityVote organization will continue throughout the week to encourage candidates to attend the Spokane forum, despite prior rejections.
“We are not taking no for an answer from any of them,” Agran said.
Regardless of whether they appear at the forum, the names of 21 announced or potential candidates will be on the municipal ballots in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and Moscow, Idaho, and 15 other cities around the country.
Among those who have agreed to attend the forum are the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who ran for president as a Democrat in 1988. He has suggested he might run as an independent next year, but has not declared his candidacy.
The Republicans who have committed to attend the forum are Fletcher, who served in the Nixon, Ford and Bush administrations; Keyes, a radio talk show host with strong support among Christian conservatives; and Chuck Collins, a developer and rancher from Florida.
Harry Browne of the Libertarian Party and John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party also will take part in the forum.
All candidates at the forum will be asked a series of questions developed at the “Ice Cream Conferences,” a series of neighborhood gatherings in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene sponsored by The Spokesman-Review.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TICKETS Spokane will play host to a variety of presidential candidates on Sunday at the CityVote forum at the Ag Trade Center. At the site of Expo ‘74, which centered around the environment, candidates will be asked to address questions about environmental and urban issues confronting the nation in the 1990s. Tickets for the 90-minute forum, which begins at 6 p.m., are available for $10 and can be purchased by cash or check. A limited number will be available beginning today during regular business hours at the following locations: The Spokesman-Review Building, 999 W. Riverside, in the 4th Floor news editorial office. The Spokesman-Review Valley Office, 13208 E. Sprague. The Idaho Spokesman-Review Office, 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200. Cox Cable Spokane, 1717 E. Buckeye.