Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney. REUTERS

Apparently, Mitt Romney counts children among his infamous 47 percent.

The revitalized GOP candidate, still milking a second wind from last week’s triumphant debate with President Barack Obama, has declined to participate in Nickelodeon’s long-running “Kids Pick the President” special, the network said on Monday. Linda Ellerbee, the show's host and executive producer, said that Romney’s decision sends the wrong message to children who show an interest in presidential politics and the direction of our country.

“That's several million kids who actually want to get involved in the democratic process,” she told AP. “They don't deserve to be dissed.”

The Romney campaign said the former Massachusetts governor simply can’t fit the special into his schedule.

The special, which is part of “Nick News With Linda Ellerbee,” allows kids to ask the two candidates videotaped questions. An online poll follows the Q&A, in which the kids vote for which candidate they think should win. While Nickelodeon stresses that the poll is not scientific, the youngsters have a surprisingly accurate track record, having picked the correct winner in five out of the last six presidential elections. In 2000, the kids named Vice President Al Gore as their choice (but then so did the majority of adults).

Nickelodeon, a division of Viacom Inc. (Nasdaq: VIA), has aired the special every four years since 1992. Romney is only the second candidate to decline participation, the first being Sen. John Kerry in 2004, who cited scheduling conflicts. Following Kerry’s decision, President George W. Bush also dropped out that year as well.

Romney’s decision follows his widely circulated comments from last week’s debate in which he told moderator Jim Lehrer that he would cut federal funding to PBS. The Obama campaign was quick to pounce on Romney’s decision not to appear on the Nick News special, questioning the GOP hopeful’s commitment to education.

Where and when the candidates appear on TV has become an increasingly polarizing issue this election season. When Obama appeared on ABC’s “The View” during the United Nations General Assembly last month, conservative pundits chastised the president for the next two weeks. Romney, conversely, has received quite a bit of public flak from David Letterman for not appearing on his late-night program. The host has gone so far as to urge viewers not to vote for Romney unless he does so.

As for “Kids Pick the President,” Nick News said Romney still has time to change his mind. President Obama has already taped his segment from the White House, fielding videotaped questions about the economy, gun control, jobs, immigration, same-sex marriage and bullying. The kids also asked the president about his most embarrassing moment, according to Nick News.

“Kids Pick the President” airs on Monday, Oct. 15, while the results of the poll are revealed the following Monday, Oct. 22.

Nick News has expressed hope that Romney will have a change of heart before it’s too late.