OK, these guys were afraid of being outnumbered and beat down. They didn't want to preach to someone else's choir, it would do no good. Or so they're telling themselves.
Maybe try it again, but in an invite-only manner for the audience. Instead of polarized, decisions'-already-made factions, why not invite as many undecideds as possible? Including state senators that are still on the fence?
This frames things a little more fairly (in their mind) and gives them something of a mission (again, in their mind). And, frankly, these kinds of debates aren't a show for people who've made up their minds, they're a way for each side to reach out to those who, for whatever reason, haven't yet.
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