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GOP Candidates and Media to Kids: Drop Dead

| April 5, 2012

Disenfranchised in 2012. (D. Sharon Pruitt)

Disenfranchised in 2012. (D. Sharon Pruitt)

Children are being ignored in the 2012 presidential debates, according to a national report released Thursday.

The Iowa-based Child and Family Policy Center found that the candidates and media discussed children’s issues less than two percent of the time over 20 debates – just 17 debate questions of more than 1,000.

“They’re not talking about children,” said Roy Miller, head of the Florida Children’s Campaign, of the candidates. “And that includes their own children. I mean, we gave them credit if they even mentioned they had kids of their own.”

Miller said the presidential candidates do not volunteer what they’ll do for kids if elected, but almost always include their offspring in their campaign publicity.

“So they’re always in the photo op,” he said, “but not in the discussion.”

Both Miller and Dr. Charles Bruner, executive director of the CFPC and co-author of the study, said there is a “disconnect” between voters’ concerns and campaign rhetoric.

One area got close – candidates were asked fairly often about “family values,” though it wasn’t necessarily tied directly to children.

The study broke down questions in the Republican presidential debates, beginning with Greenville, South Carolina on May 5, 2011, and ending with Mesa, Arizona on February 22, 2012. The most-asked questions addressed national security (19.8 percent); the candidates’ records and qualifications (18 percent); jobs and the economy (17.9 percent); government’s role in social and family values (10.3 percent); the federal debt (10.2 percent); immigration (7.5 percent); and health care (6.3 percent).

There were no questions asked in any of the debates about child protection, early childhood education or children with disabilities.

Miller said kids comprise 24 percent of the U.S. population, but don’t have the political clout to hold politicians accountable.
“They absolutely need the debate moderators to look the candidates in the eye and say, ‘We have 74 million children in America – what are you going to do to help them?'” he said. “And even more important, not all 74 million children are doing well.”

The CFPC study also reviewed the candidates’ position statements and how they presented policy views on their websites, where there are also few mentions of children. Where they were mentioned, it was in the context of abortion, school choice, government spending and the debt that could be left for children to pay in the future.

Bruner, who has scrutinized previous presidential campaigns for inclusion of children’s issues, said this year the mentions were fewer than ever.

He also said that recessions have an outsize impact on children, even when their deprivations are temporary, because children achieve 90 percent of their brain development in the first five years of life.

“For adults to have a bad year or two is one thing,” Bruner said. “But for a seven year old to have a year or two where they struggle, that puts them way behind in their development.”

There has been a spike in child poverty, he added, and the recession has hit young families at a time when their children are young and vulnerable.

The advocates also called on the media to take responsibility for asking questions about children. Polls show that voters care about the 500,000 children in foster care, the 15 million who drop out of school and the 8 million now without health care coverage – but those are on the back burner compared to other more immediate issues.

Bruner said it’s up to the press and the public to put children’s issues on the front burner.

“If the candidates are asked often enough about these issues, it becomes something that they realize they have to know something about and formulate answers to,” he said. “And it gets on their radar, so they’re thinking, ‘When I get elected, this is one of the things I’m responsible for doing.'”

That would improve the quality of U.S. elections, he said.

The advocates also said the federal government spends $374 billion yearly for child health, safety, nutrition, education and economic security – and that such large sums require a serious policy debate.

“How are they going to get a question asked if they don’t have someone in the media as an advocate?” Miller demanded. “It’s a political and moral responsibility of the media to bring these issues up.”

–Margie Menzel, News Service of Florida

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12 Responses for “GOP Candidates and Media to Kids: Drop Dead”

  1. BEEBob says:

    More BS from the liberal media. What has Obama done for children except destroying their future by bankrupting the country.

  2. Martha says:

    The article header is what is wrong with media today. I didn’t read anywhere in the story where anyone mentioned kids should drop dead.

  3. Mike says:

    Do you really think Republicans want to kill old people, starve children, throw grand ma off a cliff? How stupid do you think we are? It was all the attacks on Clarance Thomas when he was nominated for the supreme Court that made me take a second look and become a Conservative Republican.

    And Obama is passing laws and talking about children too? How about we get their moms and dads working again? How about we get the price of Gas down so parents can afford to give children the things they need? How about we stop killing babies in the womb? How about we fire Obama and all his czars and follow the Constitution again? Just a couple of ideas all 4 Republican candidates are talking about and have plans to enact. Useful idiots.

    • The Truth says:

      Please tell me: what is the Republican plan to get people working and getting price of gas down.

      They have no plan. It’s the same old story. The fact is, there is nothing we can do to get the price of gas down. We, as a country, are to reliant on oil and the fact is that we don’t have enough in this country. We need to move towards not being so reliant on OIL to survive.

      • Think first, act second says:

        I know, and Solyndra and the other solar company that went bankrupt after receiving government money will help us get there, right. $1 Billion lost dollars later and with Q-Cell, a German solar manufacturer and formerly the worlds largest solar panel manufacturer has also gone bankrupt proving that solar is not ready for prime time, yet.
        The Rep plan is to open up more drilling on Federal land to produce more oil and I have heard that they are considering placing limits on imported oil which will require the oil companies to keep more of it domestic. What is O’s plan? We have more oil in America than in Saudi Arabia, so we have plenty to draw from you just can’t be in the bag with the environmentalist and let them control you. You have to make decisions that are best for ALL Americans, not just those few.

  4. B. Claire says:

    Really don’t have to say much more than….remember….

    Gingrich Stands Firm on Child Janitors, Iowans Applaud
    By Danielle Kurtzleben

    December 28, 2011
    Newt Gingrich: Child labor laws ‘truly stupid’ [Video]
    November 21, 2011|By Kim Geiger


    Meanwhile President Obama’s first bill pass/signing…

    Obama Signs Equal-Pay Legislation – he Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act … which helped millions of Mom’s better support their children.

    Also, healthcare reform FINALLY covers millions of children who previously had NO healthcare coverage.

    Wonder what happened to ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ ?? GONE as soon as the right, ironically Evangelical wing took over Congress. Let those lazy kids pull themselves up by their bootstraps…like REAL Americans do.

    —with time, enough on how the GOP could care less about children issues, to make it a thesis topic.

  5. Sherry Epley says:

    Right On B. Claire. . . well said!

  6. palmcoaster says:

    @BeBobo. Wrong! Bush since 2001 bankrupted the families of this country and handed those rotten eggs to Obama, to bake the current cake.
    @Mike happens. Of course they Reps, want to throw GrandMa over a cliff by cutting SS and Medicare benefits that she paid into all her worker life and even worst privatize it “for their buddies corporations greedy profiteering”
    Of course they are starving American families and their children since at least 2005 tthat Reps robbed them from their homes and made them homeless with the help of their Wall Street cronies.
    And you really believe that any of the four are going to win coming November? with all the discourse they generated against the elderly SS, Medicare, Medicaid for the poor, against minorities specially Latinos, against women rights, even calling us caterpillars now, against workers and their unions, against students, against public employees, against properly funding education by favoring “for profit charters” and even against our postal workers now aiming about privatizing our good old postal services, based on financial insufficiencies lies, because they want the postal service payroll to save in 10 years up front the total 75 years retirement compensation, law passed by your Repugs legislators in 2005?.
    Bush generated outsourcing as since 2001 with 43,000 factories congratulated on their greed to move operation overseas to profit from slavery. Mike happens, another La,La Land dweller.
    @B.Claire, Applause!

  7. ric says:

    Mike, you nailed it.. You are right.. Get these people off intilements so they don’t continue mooching off the tax payers.

    • Rocky Mac says:

      Ric: Please explain who “these people” are. And what is “intilements”? Sounds like something I would put down on my concrete floor. If you are referring to people who need government services, you need to go back in history a few decades or more. We will always have citizens who need government assistance.
      B Claire, Palm Coaster: Glad to see some intellect on these posts…..not too many out there it appears.

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