By Jennifer Haberkorn
The Washington Times
The presidential debates, one of the most potentially significant events of the 2008 campaign, are being brought to you, in part, by the very companies that the participants say they want to keep out of politics.
Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have spent much of their time railing against the control of Washington by special interest groups and lobbyists, but some of those same groups are now spending millions of dollars to bring the presidential face-off to the public.
Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., the International Bottled Water Association and Hewlett-Packard-owned Electronic Data Systems are among the private firms and organizations sponsoring the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which hosts the forums every four years.
The CPD, which the candidates say they have no control over, declined to disclose how much its sponsors have contributed.
This year, the CPD planned to host three debates between the presidential candidates and one with the vice-presidential candidates. But the first presidential debate, scheduled for Friday night, is in serious doubt because of the flurry of congressional activity on the economic crisis. The debates are to be held in Oxford, Miss.; St. Louis; Nashville, Tenn.; and Hempstead, N.Y.