Passing ‘Em By

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Jack Kemp, the former New York congressman and Bob Dole’s running mate in 1996, and Newt Gingrich are among the Republicans worried about the number of debates and forums sponsored by minority groups that GOP candidates are skipping, the Washington Post reports in a follow to a Huffington Post story earlier this week. The latest is a PBS forum next week that is to be moderated by Tavis Smiley. All the leading contenders are passing it up. And only McCain among the top contenders agreed to participate in the Univision forum. And when the Human Rights Campaign hosted its forum on gay issues last month, some of the candidates’ campaigns didn’t even respond to invites.

“We sound like we don’t want immigration; we sound like we don’t want black people to vote for us,” Kemp told the Washington Post. “What are we going to do — meet in a country club in the suburbs one day? If we’re going to be competitive with people of color, we’ve got to ask them for their vote.”

Said Gingrich, “For Republicans to consistently refuse to engage in front of an African American or Latino audience is an enormous error. I hope they will reverse their decision and change their schedules. I see no excuse — this thing has been planned for months, these candidates have known about it for months. It’s just fundamentally wrong. Any of them who give you that scheduling-conflict answer are disingenuous. That’s baloney.”

Obama’s Return: Barack Obama makes another Southern California fund-raising swing through Southern California on Oct. 20, when he attends a lunch at the home of Irena Medavoy.

Gravel’s Unwelcome Guest: Darkhorse presidential candidate Mike Gravel, appearing at Beverly Hills’ Peninsula Hotel on Monday night, faced some harsh remarks from one of the attendees. Abbe Lane, the former nightclub singer and spouse of Xavier Cugat, said loudly, “I wouldn’t vote for you for dog catcher!” Army Archerd reports that Dominick Dunne walked out during her tirade and People magazine’s Frank Swertlow called her “shameless.”

The Other Contenders: It’s easy to forget that not just presidential candidates are making fund-raising pushes in L.A. Tom Allen, seeking to unseat Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, was guest of honor at a fund-raiser Tuesday at the home of J.J. Abrams.

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