"If Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and John McCain can’t stand up to Tavis Smiley, than how can they stand up to the terrorists?" - Jonathan Zasloff
For Giuliani, at least, skipping these events is totally consistent with his history. As New York mayor he refused to meet with black leaders and on several occasions exploited racial tensions or used racially coded language. And he is on the one hand the national front-runner in the Republican race and on the other the guy whose big liability is supposed to be his liberalism on some social issues.
So that's where this country is: on the one hand you have the Republicans, who feel no need to talk to black people, and on the other hand, you have the traditional media, which thinks that for a party to get its winning margins from black voters as opposed to from homophobes (or, as they like to call them, "values voters") is vaguely illegitimate. - MissLaura at Daily Kos