That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.
J.C. Watts, the last African-American to serve as a GOP member of Congress, called the decision by leading Republican candidates to skip minority-sponsored debate forums as “stupid.”
“I think the best that comes out of stupid decisions like this,” Watts told ABC News, is “that African-Americans might say, ‘Was it because of my skin color?’ Now, maybe it wasn’t, but African-Americans do say, ‘It crossed my mind.'”
The invites for a PBS debate on Thursday moderated by Tavis Smiley were extended in March, but Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson all declined, citing scheduling conflicts. Smiley appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” last week and criticized the field — to Leno’s agreement.
Governor on the Grill: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be the target of a celebrity roast at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Oct. 17 to raise money for his 2006 campaign fund (and you thought it was over). Tom Arnold is the MC, with those roasting including Jim Brulte, John Burton, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Dax Shepard and David Spade. Tickets start at $500-per-person.
Media Maneuvers: Following up on the Clinton campaign’s spiking of a GQ cover story, ABC News declares that Hillary Clinton is “running perhaps the most media-controlled — and media-obsessed — campaign in presidential history. Her aides carefully screen access to the candidate, generally avoid news conferences on the campaign trail and have been known to throw around the Clintons’ considerable weight to block negative stories and influence coverage of the candidate they’re protecting and promoting.”
FCC Fines: In the first-such crackdown of its kind, the FCC is proposing to slap Comcast Corp. with a $4,000 fine for running a “fake news release” of a sleep aid without telling viewers that it was financed by the maker of the product.
The Jolie Summit: Angelinia Jolie will meet with British foreign secretary David Miliband in New York this week to discuss forieng policy.
Spacey’s Meet: Add Kevin Spacey to the list of performers who have paid Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez a visit on a trip through the country.
My Kind of Town: James Gray’s upcoming “We Own the Night” features a cameo by former New York Mayor Ed Koch as…himself, circa 1988. Although he gets a few flattering lines, it’s not the most flattering view of the city, overrun with drug activity and organized crime. One of the film’s stars, Robert Duvall, has endorsed Rudy Giuliani, whose campaign pitch is that he’s helped clean up the city.
Clavin’s Campaign: John Ratzenberger, a.k.a. Cliff Clavin on “Cheers,” is touring the country with a “Keep It Made in America” campaign, designed to push the issue of maintaining the country’s manufacturing base at the forefront of the 2008 campaign. He tells the Washington Examiner Yeas & Nays column, “The manufacturing base of the United States is disappearing. And when factories disappear, the entire fabric of a community disappears.”