N.C. Democratic debate canceled

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UPDATED 7:40 am. PT April 22, 2008

NEW YORK -- The cancellation of the April 27 North Carolina Democratic debate has dealt a serious blow to the chances that "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric will moderate a debate.

After several weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations with the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the state party announced Monday that they were canceling the debate that would have aired on CBS following "60 Minutes."

Clinton had immediately agreed to the debate, which would have been held in Raleigh, but Obama's camp had delayed a decision until at least the results of the North Carolina primary were in. The party couldn't continue at this point without a commitment from Obama due to fund-raising.

An attempt to hold a debate with Couric and "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer in December in Los Angeles was canceled because of the WGA strike.

CBS News senior vp Paul Friedman challenged the notion that CBS News or Couric has been hurt by not having a debate. NBC News has held two primetime debates, both on MSNBC, and ABC News held three in primetime on the broadcast network, including last week's controversial gathering in Philadelphia.

"It's a disappointment because it would have been an opportunity for Katie to show how good she is at this," Friedman said. "She's a terrific interviewer and she's passionate about politics."
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