He’ll skip the YouTube debate, because it’s not “respectful” enough. So Chris Matthews was “respectful?”

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Friday that he will not participate in a debate on Sept. 17 co-sponsored by CNN and YouTube, calling the debate not “respectful” enough to be part of the process of selecting a presidential nominee.

In an interview with Steve Scully on C-SPAN, Romney said he has informed CNN that he will be in New York that day and will not attend the debate. He told Scully that all of the candidates will be racing to the end of the third-quarter fundraising deadline at the end of that month.

“During September, we are all scrambling around to raise money we need to run our campaigns,” Romney said. “We will have had four debates by then.”

Asked about the format, which featured video questions submitted by the public, Romney said “There is a degree of respectfulness that ought to be associated with the process fo selecting a nominee. From what I’ve heard, that level of respectfulness was breached.”

“…from what I’ve heard…”? He hasn’t watched the Democrat version yet?

I’ll be the first to say that it’s a gimmicky format. I slogged through the pile of junk videos before the first one, and the vast majority were worthless questions from ill-informed liberals. The GOP version will crank that up to 11, no doubt. That’s just being Captain Obvious. But I’ll also be the first to say that the spin on this decision to skip the debate will be ferocious — “Republicans afraid to take questions from average Americans” is how it’ll get played. Wired is already on that beat. Expect others to follow.

Message to Mitt: Don’t run away from the CNN/YouTube debate.

Update (AP): Must read.

Update (AP): Meanwhile…