Obama, McCain campaigns to debate tech policy

by Nicholas Thompson, Wired

Update (see below): The tech debate will take place, between Reed Hundt (Obama supporter) and Douglas Holtz-Eakin (McCain camp). Details TBA.

Last week, after publishing the Wired Technology Policy Scorecard, I contacted the two campaigns and told them that I'd like to organize a debate over these issues. Let's get top surrogates together to discuss broadband policy, H1B Visas, and so on. The Obama camp said great. Reed Hundt, former FCC chair, was available and willing. The McCain camp also said great. But then we tried to figure out who to do it. The challenge was to find someone of equal stature to Hundt, which isn't easy given that the tech community as a whole massively favors Obama.

My first choice was Carly Fiorina. She's a smart McCain supporter and she's very articulate on these issues. I was told she'd be happy to participate and her people were extremely accomodating and helpful. But she is controversial and the McCain people vetoed her --- claiming that they wanted someone with policy expertise, not just general wisdom about technology.

Ok. How about Michael Powell, a McCain advocate and another former FCC chair? It turns out, however, that his people say he'll be traveling continuously until after the election. Hmm. Maybe true. Or maybe he was worried about stories about a familial split, given that his father, Colin, was about to endorse Obama. How about Meg Whitman? Nope. She can't do it. John Chambers? Nope. He can't either.

Finally, after some begging, approval appeared to come in for Ms. Fiorina to participate. It looked like the debate would happen: 12:30pm, on Thursday October 30th: Fiorina v. Hundt. But then: kaboom. Word comes again this morning that the McCain camp must, must have someone with policy expertise. And, since there's no one else, the debate's off.

So, is there anyone else out there in the tech world who supports McCain? If you've got ideas put them in the suggestion box after the jump.

Update 11:45am: Huge credit to the McCain people. They're making senior domestic policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin available. The debate is on! Details on location and timing soon.

article originally published at http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/10/mccain-camp-bac.html.

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