Linda Ellerbee on Mitt Romney's 'Kids Pick the President' rejection: 'I kept pushing it'

linda-ellerbee-oct-2011-gi.jpgIf Governor Mitt Romney could find half an hour in his schedule within the next five days, Nick News' Linda Ellerbee will meet him any time, anywhere she tells Zap2it.

The presidential candidates have gone on her show, "Kids Pick the President: The Candidates" special since 1992. Immediately after, kids begin to vote online for the president and have chosen the same winner as the general election, except in 2000, when the Nick voters picked Vice President Al Gore.  

President Barack Obama has already taped his segment. Her show will go on, with or without an interview from the GOP candidate, on Monday, Oct. 15. And she would meet with the Republican candidate until midnight on Oct. 14.

Ellerbee began asking both candidates in April, explaining how this process worked and that she needed precisely half an hour with each.

"They were encouraging," she says of Romney's camp. "'Yes, we believe this will work out and will find a time for this' and Obama camp said the same thing. On September 19, we went to the White House and he answered questions.

"By then Romney's camp said, 'I don't think this will work out,'" Ellerbee continues. "But I kept pushing it. That's what reporters do."

After the first presidential debate, Ellerbee sent another email to Romney's campaign.

"I said Governor Romney did wonderfully well so maybe you are all in a good mood and would like to say yes today."

elmo-big-bird-gi.jpg"I was hoping that they would realize perhaps the remark about Big Bird had been injudicious and they might want to change their mind about coming on Nick News," she says of the governor saying he would cut funding for PBS. "They had emailed me back and thanked for me his compliment about the governor's performance, but there is no time to fit into his schedule. And I believe them. I think Governor Romney is a good man. There is no way of knowing if this ever got to him."

Regardless of Romney answering the questions, Ellerbee is certain of her mission: to help educate children about politics and strike a true interest among our youngest citizens in how democracy works.

The kids' tallies will be announced on Oct. 22, after a week of voting.

The Monday, Oct. 15 half-hour special sticks to a tried and true formula. Biographies of both candidates are presented. Each candidate is asked the same questions. Ellerbee's staff culls questions from youth all over the country, different ethnicities, ages, and the wonderful mix that is the United States of America.

Since the president answered, and the governor has declined, Ellerbee did not want the show to be one-sided so she has bought news clips from news agencies that have Romney addressing the issues the children ask about.

It is not the same as having him answer directly, but it is the best she could do.

"There are no trick questions," she says. "We even send them the questions ahead of time because we want them to think about how they respond to kids."

Governor Romney's campaign did respond to Zap2it's question as to why he would not appear on the show. A spokesperson confirms that it would not work in his schedule.

Photo/Video credit: Getty Images
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