This from The Politico:
What if they gave a debate and nobody came?
What if the media-political complex announced a presidential debate, hired a hall, sent out invitations, lined up 200 folding chairs for the press, and then the major candidates said: “Stick it in your ear. We’re not coming.”
That could happen this year for one good reason: Major candidates are complaining that too many states are planning too many debates too early.
I don’t knock Hillary or Obama for not wanting to show at every little debate. There is such a thing as over exposure. Plus, during a debate, they will be asked questions which they probably don’t have good answers for.
More importantly, however, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may just say no. They might do the unthinkable and just refuse to show up.
Early debates are helpful to second- and third-tier candidates because those candidates need publicity.
But what do front-runners get from debates? Nothing but risk. They already have publicity. To the top tier, early debates are a negative, an ordeal, a chance for the rest of the pack to nip them in their rear ends.
Debates are for people like Al Sharpton who like to perform for the camera and zing one-liners at their opponents.