Obama Plans to Stick to Domestic Policy at Debate
By Shailagh Murray
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Sen. Barack Obama arrived here this afternoon for the final presidential debate prepared to stick to the official topic: domestic policy.
So that makes one of the two candidates. Sen. John McCain has said he may bring up previous debate unmentionables, like Obama's association with the 1960s-era radical William Ayers, which Obama has said he is surprised have not come up before.
Obama will answer the charges, but would rather avoid a contentious personal brawl. "All we can control is what we do," Obama's political strategist, David Axelrod, told reporters aboard the campaign plane. "Hopefully we'll have a robust discussion about the economy. It would be a shame if we didn't."
Axelrod said that the Obama viewers see tonight would be similar to the Obama who showed up at previous debates in Nashville, Tenn., and Oxford, Miss. "We're not in the business of reinventing ourselves from debate to debate," he asserted, alluding to Obama's GOP opponent, whom he described as "churning from day to day."
His candidate will surely show up more polished than he was 18 months ago, at the first of the '08 showdowns in April 2007. Obama struggled during those early sessions to deliver crisp responses, and he seemed outmatched by some of his far more seasoned opponents -- including his present running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden.
"It's fair to say that it was a new experience for him," said Axelrod. "I think he's honed his debating style." But he added, the two dozen sessions have added up to something: "We've always believed that as people came to know Senator Obama, to see him, to hear him, that that would be helpful to his candidacy. He makes the case for himself as well as anybody."
Web Politics Editor
October 15, 2008; 4:59 PM ET
Categories: Barack Obama , The Debates
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