A senior Republican official tells ABC News' Jonathan Karl that the first presidential debate, scheduled for Thursday in Miami, could be canceled unless there is a breakthrough soon in negotiations between the two campaigns and the Commission on Presidential Debates.
The only remaining sticking point, Karl reports, is the reluctance of the Commission on Presidential Debates to sign the agreement negotiated by the Bush and Kerry campaigns.
The commission and the campaigns have been negotiating a side letter the commission (and moderators) would sign instead of the agreement, but the Bush campaign finds the current draft of the letter too weakly worded.....A senior official with the Commission on Presidential Debates says the debates are in jeopardy and puts the blame squarely on the Bush campaign, Karl reports. "If they don't want to debate, that's fine. They can tell the world why the don't want to debate," the official told ABC News. "If they decide to pull out, it's on them."
I'm not sure what effect this would have... the Bush campaign would probably get a decent reaction if it decided to blame the media, but I don't know whether or not swing and undecided voters would bite. (Base Democrats would blame him, base Republicans would blame the media, so they wouldn't enter into this.)
The trip through the looking glass that is the 2004 presidential election continues.