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McCain On Skipping The African American Debate

CBS News' Dante Higgins reports:

Well, it happened: The six Republican presidential candidates who participated in last night's PBS debate at the historically Black Morgan State University in Baltimore made sure to criticize the four better known GOPers who didn't attend.

Sen. John McCain, one of the four no-shows (Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson were the others), tried to explain his absence and admitted yesterday that his party has work to do better among African Americans.

McCain was asked after his speech to the Hudson Institute in New York if skipping the debate hurts the Republican Party. He responded that he receives more invitations than he can accept, but admitted Republicans "have some work to do in the African American community...We have to remind ourselves and our constituents that we are the party of Abraham Lincoln."

In his defense he told the room, "I would hope that most Americans judge me on my long record and advocacy and work with the African community for some 24 years rather than whether I appear at one debate or not."

The Senator added that he was also concerned about the Latino vote and the "decline in Hispanic voter registration" and its impact on his party. He was the only Republican candidate to RSVP for a Republican Univision debate, which was cancelled due to lack of interest from the other candidates, and he addressed the Hispanic Business Expo and Economic Summit in Detroit today.

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