LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - American kids are getting their chance to pick the country's next president, but this year they will have to do it without putting their questions directly to Republican contender Mitt Romney.
Award-winning "Nick News" host and producer Linda Ellerbee said on Monday that President Barack Obama sat down to answer questions from young viewers on the election, but Romney's aides turned down an invitation for him to appear personally on the show's long-running "Kids Pick the President" special.
"By answering kids' questions directly, candidates show respect for kids," Ellerbee said in a statement. "We are disappointed that Mitt Romney wouldn't take the time to answer the questions, but are thrilled that President Obama participated in the special."
Instead, the show will use previously taped video clips of Romney addressing some of the issues important to kids, and will run biographies of both candidates.
Following the "Nick News" special on October 15, kids will vote online for the man they think should be the next president. In five of the last six U.S. presidential elections, they have correctly picked the winner ahead of the November polls.
TV channel Nickelodeon said "Nick News" has been doing its election specials since 1996. Since then, only 2004 candidates President George W. Bush and Democratic opponent John Kerry have declined to take part.
This year, Obama answered questions sent in by young viewers on issues including same-sex marriage, gun control, bullying and obesity.
He also revealed his most embarrassing moment. "Running into the wall is par for the course for me," Obama told "Nick News." "I'm running into doors and desks all the time."
"Nick News," now in its 21st year, has won nine Emmy awards and is the longest-running kids' news show on U.S. television. It has tackled subjects ranging from alcoholism to autism, cancer and having parents returning from war. (Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sandra Maler)