WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) - The writers strike is threatening to put on ice the December 10 Democratic presidential debate hosted by CBS News as the party’s front-runners say that they won’t cross a picket line.
The strike also is cooling the ardor of the candidates and their spouses to appear on ABC’s “The View,” as the candidates and their spouses are refusing to cross the picket line to make appearances on the talker.
In separate statements or interviews before the Thanksgiving holiday, the three front-runners said that they will honor picket lines set up by the CBS newswriters if they go on strike. The candidates also appeared willing to honor picket lines set up by the Writers Guild of America.
The newswriters’ union has authorized a strike but has not yet called for a work stoppage. Striking WGA West members have set up picket lines in Los Angeles and could set up pickets at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, where soap operas, “The Price Is Right” and primetime shows are produced.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards all said Wednesday that they will not cross a picket line to participate in the debate.
“The workers at CBS News have been without a contract for close to 2 1/2 years,” Clinton said. “It is my hope that both sides will reach an agreement that results in a secure contract for the workers at CBS News, but let me be clear: I will honor the picket line if the workers at CBS News decide to strike.”
The Democratic solidarity with the union cause is not unexpected; organized labor has been one of the party’s building blocks.
Edwards said he and his wife, Elizabeth, will honor the picket lines of both unions, adding that they were canceling an appearance on “The View.”
“Elizabeth and I will honor the members of the WGA who are on strike at ‘The View’ by canceling our appearance on the show,” he said. “I call on all of my fellow candidates and their campaigns to do the same. In addition, we will also honor any picket lines at CBS News, up to and including the CBS presidential debate on December 10. As I said when I walked the WGA picket line in California (on November 16), these workers are making a simple request for their fair share of the huge profits being made by multinational media corporations.”
Michelle Obama was scheduled to co-host the popular daytime talk show December 5, but she canceled.
“Michelle Obama will not cross a picket to line to appear on ‘The View,'” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt wrote in an e-mail. “When the strike ends, she looks forward to appearing.”
Barack Obama also is planning to boycott the debate if a picket line is set up.
CBS said it was hoping that the debate could still go forward.
“We are going forward with our plans for the debate and hope that the WGA, in the interests of the American public, will pull down the pickets for the period of the debate,” the network said.
Said the WGA East on Wednesday: “We are thrilled by the strong support we’ve received today from presidential candidates John Edwards, Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.”