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Curious Timing: Tancredo Drops Out of Black Voter Forum After Keyes Is Included

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Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) has become the latest Republican presidential candidate to drop out of a long-scheduled forum at a historically black college, the Huffington Post has learned.

Tancredo joins frontrunners Fred Thompson, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Mitt Romney, who have been widely criticized for snubbing the PBS event at Morgan State College.

Like the other candidates who pulled out of the forum, Tancredo cited scheduling conflict, despite the fact that the date for the forum has been set for months. But a person involved in planning the forum called the timing of Tancredo's decision "a bit curious," noting that it "came less than 24 hours after a Tancredo spokesperson expressed concerns to us about the inclusion of Alan Keyes at Morgan State."

Keyes, an African American, joined the GOP presidential race several days ago and participated in a "Values Voter" forum earlier this week.

Tancredo's campaign insisted that the congressman didn't know whether Keyes would be attending when he decided to cancel. Spokesperson Bay Buchanan told the Huffington Post that Tancredo had never officially confirmed his attendance at the forum, and will instead spend the day campaigning in Iowa.

Last month, Tancredo stirred controversy by urging an end to federal aid to the Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. It is "time the taxpayer gravy train left the New Orleans station," he said.

Criticism of the GOP response to the black voter forum continues to grow. On Thursday, President Bush made a rare comment on the 2008 race, urging Republican candidates "to reach out to the African American community." A New York Times editorial Thursday said the decision to snub the forum falls into "the category of What Are They Thinking?"