John Roberts

“My take on this: They have to respect [Tavis] for his power. But apparently they are not showing enough respect do to the fact that they did not want to participate in this particular debate. To disrespect a man like Tavis Smiley, you have to question their own power and their own security. It was a missed opportunity.”

Ald. Howard Brookins

“I think it’s a flagrant disrespect to a whole group of people who are not of one thumb. We have many different and diverse ideas, and if you want to be the leader of the United States, you are the leader of everybody, not just a segment of our community. Not just the NRA (National Rifle Association) card-carrying people, but for all of these United States. African Americans makeup a significant portion of the people represented in this country. I think it was disrespectful for them not to attempt to earn their vote.”

Rev. Gregory Livingston

“I think it shows a real lack strategy, and a lack of coalition building. How can you ignore a significant population in this country and expect to be president over the entire country. So it sends out a message that you are not really interested. I think, for me, what it says is we need to organize, organize and organize to make sure these individuals don’t get elected, and that we to put somebody in office that has our concerns in front of them.”

Robert & Brenda Branch Jr.

“It was a blatant show of disrespect for not only Mr. Smiley, but also for the people that he represents. If you want to get more attention and get more of the black vote out, you have to attend these sorts of meetings to make yourself known. And if you don’t respect the assembly enough to come out, at least respect the people behind the assembly to come out. They turned their backs on us and walked the other way. That is not fair.”

Pauline Doyle

“Well, I think the four Republicans who missed the debates really did themselves a disservice because what they did was tell the black community that our issues are not important. They should have at least made an opportunity to come hear what we had to say, see what some of our concerns are, and give us direct answers. But by not appearing they told us ‘it doesn’t really matter what you think or what your issues are because they aren’t important enough for us to even consider.'”

Pearlie M. Bailey

“It is their lost that they did not come to address this particular event when they should have. The African-American community, the Latino community, the Asian community – we are a great and dynamic group of people that is growing on a daily basis within these United States. We have concerns that need to be addressed by those individuals should they get in office. How can you serve the people if you do not know what the people want? We are a viable people with valuable concerns for this country. I strongly feel as though it was an opportunity in which they missed – an opportunity to sway voters to their side.”

Phyllis Logan

“Well, you know Tavis Smiley has been doing an awesome thing over the past few years. He’s been our informer, our communicator. So when you’re invited to give the community your opinion, or to debate the issues, and you don’t show up, then that means you are not really a representative of all the people, number one. And number two: you really don’t want to cater to our position. Republicans really don’t care about African Americans – they don’t think we are a part of the process. This is really bad because there are many African Americans who are Republicans, just as well as there are many more who are Democrats. We need to hear from both sides.”