WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton missed a scheduled appearance with young minority journalists Friday under puzzling and yet-to-be explained circumstances.
Forum organizers said aides to the New York preacher told them he couldn't make it because two US Airways shuttle flights to Washington were canceled. But the airline says both flights left on time from New York's LaGuardia Airport.
Sharpton, one of nine Democrats seeking the presidential nomination, was supposed to attend a luncheon and then sit for a 1 p.m. interview with scholars in the UNITY: Journalists of Color program.
Jesse Borges, director of the UNITY mentor program, said Sharpton was supposed to catch the 10 a.m. shuttle, but his scheduler called to say it was canceled so he would take the next flight at noon. The organizers agreed to delay the program to accommodate him, but the scheduler called again and said the noon flight had been canceled as well.
Borges said after the airline said the flight had not been canceled, he called Sharpton's scheduler back.
"I said, 'I think you made a mistake. You sure it was US Air because their flights haven't been canceled?"' Borges said. "They said, 'Oh, it might have been another airline."'
Borges said he suggested that Sharpton take the US Airways flight, but the scheduler told him Sharpton had already left the airport and couldn't make it in time.
Several heated calls were exchanged between forum's organizers and Sharpton's aides. The aides said Sharpton would call to explain personally the situation to Vic Carter, an anchor at Baltimore's WJZ-TV and host of the event.
Carter said one of Sharpton's aides called and asked him to hold the line for the reverend, but after about five minutes of waiting, Carter hung up. An aide called again, but Carter said again he was left on hold for several minutes before being told Sharpton would be available shortly and would call back. He never did.
Sharpton's spokeswoman did not return a call for comment from The Associated Press.