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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Presidential Candidates Fail To Demonstrate Political Courage

2007 November 16 - MikeW

Manchester, NH / Washington, DC - Project Vote Smart has released the results of its Presidential Political Courage Test, which showed 55% of presidential candidates were willing to expose their positions on issues of obvious concern to citizens. This represented an 8% decline in the candidates' willingness to provide such crucial information to citizens since 2004. This also demonstrated the candidates' increasing interest in controlling the public's access to information regarding their intentions on issues.

Most startling, only three candidates receiving major media attention were willing to provide specific issue information to voters:

* Chris Dodd
* John Edwards
* Mike Gravel

Each candidate was asked repeatedly by key leaders of both major parties and major media, "Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face on their behalf?" Each candidate was then provided a series of questions known to be of concern to citizens, but also likely considered dangerous by their campaign consultants. Candidates were invited to address the issue areas in language they were comfortable using.

More than 100 political scientists, prominent political leaders and journalists created and implemented the Political Courage Test. During the six-week testing period, candidates were confronted numerous times by news organizations, party leaders and Vote Smart staff, in efforts to compel them to provide voters with this essential information.

"This Test demonstrated the obvious relationship between exploding campaign financing, candidates' ability to control their messages and the public's loss of access to information," said Richard Kimball, Vote Smart President. "After all, this ...

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