ABC News' Brian Wheeler Reports: The candidates on the right and left of the Democratic presidential field are set to come together twice over the next few months in debates that are being shunned so far by five of their higher-profile rivals.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) plans to host a June 6 debate devoted solely to the situation in Iraq. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., who has been calling for such a debate since the end of April, was the only candidate slated to attend, that is until SAIS confirmed today that Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a perennial dark-horse, and the little-known former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel had accepted their invitation. SAIS says that while they invited all Democratic candidates to attend, only Biden, Kucinich, and Gravel have committed.
Robert Guttman, director of the Center on Politics and Foreign Relations at SAIS and the debate's organizer, tells ABC News he has a guest list that includes several European ambassadors and diplomats from Australia, Japan, Russian, and Latin American.
Biden recently distinguished himself as the only Democratic contender in the Senate to support a war funding bill which does not include a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal; Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., voted against the bill, and in doing so, appear to be trying to outflank former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., for the affections of the party's left-wing.
You could see a repeat of next week's performance in September during a scheduled debate hosted by Fox News and the Congressional Black Caucus; the other Democratic candidates have all rebuffed the invitation, in some cases loudly, citing Fox's perceived Republican leanings. That leaves Biden, Kucinich, and Gravel as the only candidates planning to attend.