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Democratic Debate Preview (and Obama's Decision)

On the eve of yet another Democratic presidential debate -- this one in Des Moines and hosted by ABC's George Stephanopoulos -- Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) is putting his foot down.

"We simply cannot run the kind of campaign we want and need to, engaging with voters in the early states and February 5 states, if our schedule is dictated by dozens of forums and debates," writes Obama campaign manager David Plouffe in a statement posted on the candidate's Web site Saturday morning. "Ultimately, the one group left out of the current schedule is the voters and they are the ones who ask the toughest questions and most deserve to have those questions answered face to face."

So from here on out, says Plouffe, Obama will only participate in the five remaining debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee -- two December debates in Iowa and a Sept. 9 debate in Miami to be aired on the Spanish-language channel Univision.

Obama's decision is likely to be a topic of discussion at tomorrow's debate. While it's certainly a reasonable move, it opens Obama up to criticism from the myriad interest groups trying to have their voices heard in the process by hosting their own presidential debate or forum. If Obama is not participating, it's VERY unlikely that Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) or former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) will make time for these events either. Does Obama face a backlash for setting up a situation where the top three candidates won't be at every forum? Possibly.

But Plouffe's letter to supporters is also a recognition that with the compressed primary calendar, his candidate simply cannot be in all the places where people want him. Obama (like the rest of the field) needs a strong showing in the early states, so he's likely to focus massive amounts of time and resources in those places in the coming months.

As for tomorrow's debate, it could well be the most confrontational to date. In the last week, Obama has raised questions about Clinton's electability to The Post's own Dan Balz, while Edwards has questioned Obama's outsider credentials.

The question for Obama and Edwards is whether they can knock Clinton off her stride. Clinton's extraordinary discipline as a candidate has shown through in the first group of televised debates. She has effectively parried questions about her position on the war in Iraq and whether she is too divisive to be elected.

The back-and-forth at the YearlyKos debate a few weeks ago in Chicago, however, showed that Clinton can be rattled. She was clearly flustered by attacks from Obama and Edwards on her campaign's acceptance of money from lobbyists. Clinton wound up offering something of a defense of lobbyists -- never a good move in the current anti-Washington political climate.

Thanks to the miracle of technology, we'll be liveblogging the debate starting right here at 9 a.m. ET tomorrow. Tune in.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 18, 2007; 3:27 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Line: Where Are the GOP Senate Candidates?
Next: Liveblogging the Democratic Debate: A Disclaimer


If you think of the Repug presidential each Dem debate is worth to be watched.

Posted by: Jimmy | August 20, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I for one am tired of debates, I am even more tired of "the Obama lack of experience" chant. Can someone tell me who has ever been elected president, that had prior president experience. If lack of "experience" is a hinderance..What the heck has experience gotten us? What experience did Bush have, Ronald Reagan was an actor. Hillary ran for senate in N.Y., isn't she from Ill., just a thought
maybe she couldn't win there. The truth of the matter is , the only presidential candidate who has experience is one who runs for RE-ELECTION!!!! I hope the american people don't buy into the media Hillary Hype. Sen. Obama can win, why because whether you agee with him or not,
he speaks of issues no one else wants to take on and shows something of a rarity in politics these days...Common Sense...and that is what America needs in its President
a quality much overlooked these days. If the current administration had more of this maybe we would not be in Iraq now

Posted by: Preacher | August 20, 2007 1:25 AM | Report abuse

I find it mind boggling that people would actually say that Barak Obama speaks around issues, while Hillary Clinton offers clear definitive statements about her positions. Nothing could be farther from the the truth. The fact of the matter is that Hillary is truly the better politician in the the "Washington Insider" sense... She gives the best political rhetoric in the face of every question and we don't judge her success in these debates based on the substance of her answer to the question, but rather the demeanor in which she delivers it...EVEN IF SHE'S WRONG!!!!

One thing I have come to feel is that Barak Obama is (for the most part) on the correct side of every issue that Hillary has tried to peg him as inexperienced...YES! We should meet with our enemies "without condition" before we line there shores with the blood of our sons and daughters...I'm not sure what type of propaganda spin Hillary is concerned about but it seems that Iran has done a perfectly good job at turning anything the George Bush says into a propaganda tool, without him having to meet Bush face to face...So in retrospect her answer is fluff.

And we needn't bring up her attack on Barak's position on Pakistan...It's common sense that if there is "actionable" intelligence about Bin Laden in the moutains of Pakistan, that we take action to eliminate him as a threat...Hilary's position seems to me to be one of appeasement. Yes, we know that Osama Bin Laden is in Pakistan, and Yes, we know that Musharif(?) is not really taking the action to bring him to justice, but it's wrong for a presidential candiate to take Musharif to task because the same extremist that Barak is threatening to take action against will overthrow Musharif, because of something that Barak said...I know it's confusing but it's more so idiotic when you really understand Hillary and Dodd's position which amounts to 'leave well enough alone in Pakistan, don't worry about Al Queda in Pakistan, because as long as we don't put any pressure on Al Queda then they wont move to overthrow Musharif... Hell, if push came to shove, I'd much rather take out Al Queda and provide security for Musharif, since Hillary seems to think that the assination attempts on his life makes him sacrosanct and beyond reproach on his lack luster efforts to capture Al Queda.

Lastly, nothing speaks of Hilliary more clearly than he criticizing Obama's statemnt about taking nuclear weapons off the table with regards to Pakistan. She says that no presidential candidate should take nuclear weapons off of the table, but it seems she forgot that she said the same thing just last year (when we all knew she was planning to run) about Iran...

It's funny that the political talking heads are siting how perfect she's performing in these debates. I actually think that Hillary recently came to grips the the flaw of her campaign that is (to the extent that she'll take one) seems to be 'say something to discredit Obama, even if it's wrong'. She spins like no other and by the time that the media realizes her rebuttal to Obama's position is with little merit, it'll be old news and she would have already been given the victory... Much like how bush stole the election, but by the time it came out that Gore actually won, it was too late...Bush had already been crowned the winner, no matter how much of a looser he really was.

Don't look for Hillary to attack Obama too much anymore for three reasons. Reason number one is that she now realizes that if you attack a correct position, then you're likely to be wrong on that issue... Reason number two is that she's already come to some sort of pact with Joe Biden, wherein he'll be her attack dog on Obama, in exchange for a spot on her ticket or cabinet. The constant affirmative head nodding when the other is speaking,or the starting off an answer with "Joe's absolutley right". It's so obvious, that it's almost insulting and I think degrades Biden in my eyes. The last reason is that eventually, the Obama camp will come to understand that their main weakness is their niceness and when they finally sharpen their teeth, they'll chew Hillary Clinton's position of meeting with enemies, her position on leaving Musharif be, and her double speak position on WMD's to pieces. It's better for her not to attack him so that she doesn't have to take a firm position on anything and keep touting the vast six or so years of experience that she has, which is foolish to me considering the senatorial fixtures that share the stage with her, not to mention Bill Richardson.

Now believe it or not, don't get me wrong. I like Hillary, but she's being a politician and i'm not sure that these answers that she's giving us now on issues will cut the mustard against Juliani in a national campaign. Her high negatives will lead voters on the fence to give him the benefit of the doubt, when the truth is that they're both doing so well in the polls because they are benefactors of something (9-11 in Rudy's case) and someone (Bill Clinton in Hillary's) that arguably has nothing to do with their qualifications

Posted by: LAW | August 19, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I feel that Hilary is a Professional Politician, she is extremely good at saying the right thing, the thing that's politically correct, and will most likely get her elected. She knows how to play the game, and is very good at it. The downside of this is that she has sold her heart and sole and is so afraid to be real, to truly stand up to big business and do what really needs to be done.

On the other hand, I feel that Barak is not a "Professional Politician", and is much more real. He is incredibly intelligent, but also has a heart and is grounded in reality, and can and is willing to truly relate to the suffering of the people and then do something about it.

The problem is that by not being a Professional Politician, a "Spin" sleuth and playing the game with the lies and BS of some other candidates, he may be more prone to attacks by the mass media - BIG BUSINESS.

These attacks can hurt him, but if there are enough common people who have the guts and courage to challenge the status quo and truly desire for our corrupt government to be cleaned up, then we can and will elect him as our next President.

This is whay I'm hoping for, and feel would absolutely be the very best for our country at this time. It will take tremendous courage to do something different, but this is what Barak is all about - not being a puppet of the mass media.

On the other hand, if Hilary does get elected it will still be far better than the war-mongers, greed filled, Republicans running at this time.

Above anything, it desperately needs to be a Democrat who wins as our country is in a very dire condition and the Republicans will sink it even further for their selfish desires, even to the extent of destroying our precious environment, and creating a whole world of hatred against us.

Vote democrat and let's start putting our country back on a true leadership position, showing the benefits of democracy by example, rather than forcing it on people at the end of rifles and bombs being droped on them.

Posted by: Eddie | August 19, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Hillary has the experience that other candidates "Do Not". Mrs. Clinton has been a First Lady in the White House previously; she also has the money numbers game figured out... She is for the people and Sen. Hillary is by far the one to beat and the others know it.... The other candidates don't want to push to hard, because I think they want to all be possibly the Vice President to her. The top contenders are also very careful and address her carefully, because they know she is the one to beat. It's fun to watch her skills at work as, you have to admit they must be worried.

Posted by: JC Ray | August 19, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I have a prediction. The first time there is a debate between all the Democrats except Obama, the press will cover it with Obama getting more mention than any other candidate, and more mention than Richardson, Dodd and Biden combined. This is despite the fact that Obama has less than a third of the experience of either Biden or Dodd, and a tenth of the experience or Richardson.

Posted by: Charlie Rader | August 19, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Hilary Rodham Clinton doesn't need a survival plan...

what she needs is a team that can mow the lawn...

I suggest Gore/Dennis K./Edwards/Obama...

I suggest that she plan right now to include people, in a winning strategy and start looking at how to remove the impediments to her success as a part of her campaign process....

the same people that tried to rear_end Bill Clinton are still running Washington, in name only...

I suggest that she set fire to the grass, and help flush them out, and shoot them in public view as they flush....

being disingenuous is only necessary if you can't crush them, not crushing them is political some point.

any Democratic Candidate, needs to have something besides good ideas and good intentions...

Jimmy Carter had his "October Surprise," and Bill Clinton was battling one thing after another...

because that made him vulnerable to being MANIPULATED...

anyone telling you different , took part in that manipulation.

to avoid being manipulated, you have to start a stampede and run them into the slaughter house....



Posted by: actually, | August 19, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

HRC will be exposed as a phoney as soon as Senator Obama is not there to give her cover. Any time a question of substance has been asked, HRC has waited until Senator Obama gave his bold answer, then she 'positioned' herself in a calculated way. But if you go back and listen to the answers she gave, they are really no answers. Like the answer she gave regarding actionable intelligence in Pakistan. Take a listen and see if it makes sense. How about meeting with hostile world leaders considering that she had given different answers to earlier interviews on the same question. Obama draws intelligent, curious and exciting crowds. She feeds off them and quickly uses her spinners to spin boos and hissess as not being necessarily bad. now that Obama has changed the game plan, the HRC camp must be in a frenzy to try and figure out a survival plan. The truth though, is that HRC's moment of zen is closing in fast...Good call Obama.

Posted by: Peter M | August 19, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Obama shouldn't bee too concerned; the rookie politician will not be the Democratic nominee!

Posted by: Austin | August 19, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Your comment about Clinton getting rattled is hogwash. You make a great issue about her unfavourable ratings. They are better than that of journalists. You folks just want a debate every day so you can fill column inches of rubbish passing off as political reporting. I applaud Obama for bringing some rationality to the debates. I am tired of the format, find out little about the substance of candidates' policies, and think that much of this is for the satisfaction of tv hosts, political reporters (junkies) and the chattering classes. They are making a great contribution to global warming.

Fewer debates and more time for thoughtful questions and answers. We don't need clowns and snowmen to tittilate the viewers. Stop the gimmicks. We are at war, our soldiers are dying and we need a thoughtful appraisal of candidates: not horse races, manufactured clashes and the usual claptrap that serves for commentary. (I won't insult the word analysis by using it).

Posted by: Alan | August 19, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

"I have had enough of amateurs like Bush/Cheney/and now Obama."

Cheney an amateur? That's a new one. Actually I've had enough of people not being willing to stand up to pros like Cheney and Rumsfeld. Colin Powell didn't, and lied to the UN on the existence of WMD. Hillary didn't because she was too worried about damaging her chances to be president one day.

Posted by: Mike O | August 19, 2007 2:56 AM | Report abuse

Michael James,

No other candidate except Biden.

And sponsoring bills isn't a measure of accomplishment - getting them passed is. I live in Illinois as well, and Obama is going to bring this kind of ethics and politicking to Washington, I want none of it. Your guys talented and smart, but I am sick and tired of having leadership in this nation that leaves us with nothing but a hope and a prayer - I prefer someone who actually has passed a number of bills and knows how are armed forces and state department work. I have had enough of amateurs like Bush/Cheney/and now Obama.

Posted by: IL Politics are Corrupt! | August 19, 2007 2:04 AM | Report abuse

The focus groups repeatedly reveal that Obama has either won the debates or held his own. Despite this, the pundits tend to say she "won" based pretty much on the fact she avoided saying anything of substance. I swear, in order to hear a whiff of criticism of her from the corporate media, she would have to announce that she was a lesbian communist who supported implementing mandatory flag burning and Sharia law in the US.

I think avoiding too many debates is simply a question of how the candidate wishes to allocate their time and, with state after state moving their primary or caucus to early January, it's going to be important for Barack to spend time on the ground with the voters in the early states rather than worrying about the TV audience outside those states.

As for the erroneous allegation that Clinton has more experience, please, please, please, Clinton supporters, provide some facts to support your position. Don't worry, I'll help you out. Who has more experience in elective office? That's right, Barack Obama. Who has sponsored more bills? That's right, Barack Obama.

If you take the time to actually compare, it's not even a close contest and Barack clearly has more experience and strength:
"...Obama, who is fourteen years her junior and has only been in the Senate since 2004, has a much more impressive record--as Senator he sponsored 152 bills and resolutions and co-sponsored 427. He has an even longer list of achievements from his previous days in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He can therefore easily smash Hillary's latest illusion..."

Even if one were to concede that Clinton has more experience (which I do not), let's talk about the record of those with experience such as Hillary's in terms of Iraq. Iraq is a case study on the kind of decision-making a president faces -- serious consequences at stake, imperfect information, passionate voices on both sides. Barack sure nailed that one, didn't he? He had the foresight to know that it was a bad move. That kind of judgement and foresight is what I want in my President. Highly preferable to looking at it in hindsight and saying "if I knew then what I know know..." Guess what, Barack knew!!! Even back then and your candidate did not. He had the same general information a lot of us did and he chose wisely, despite the prevailing political winds at the time. Hillary didn't even bother to read the entire National Intelligence Estimate. Hasn't her "experience" taught her that you need to read the fine print? I will take Barack's considered and demonstrated good judgment over "experienced" people like Clinton every time.

In short, no candidate from any political party will be able to repair America's standing in the world as well as Barack. No other candidate appeals to such a wide variety of people both within and without the United States. No other candidate has more sheer intellectual talent combined with the leadership skills and record of getting things done. If you examine the available information, unless you are willfully blind or afraid of whatever the Clintonistas might do to you, there is now way on God's green earth that you can come to the conclusion that Barack Obama doesn't have enough experience. He does and he's a much better leader than anyone else running from either party.

Posted by: Michael James -- Illinois | August 19, 2007 1:26 AM | Report abuse

This is another example of either lazy reporting or just plain dishonesty. Obama is not refusing to attend the debates, he is calling for a pause on scheduling any NEW debates until late December. He still has 8 more debates between now and late December, which comes to 2 debates per month. He wants to focus a little more time talking to and taking questions from voters.

This sort of dishonest headline is the problem with the media. This is almost as bad as the media falsely reporting that Obama said he would "invade" or "attack" or "bomb" Pakistan...I mean...c'mon people! Did any of you actually even READ the article? Obama is honoring the remaining 8 debates but is saying hold off on scheduling NEW debates.
In typical fashion, this has been distorted by the headline "Obama:Enough with the Debates", which is NOT what Obama said.

Posted by: Chima | August 19, 2007 1:20 AM | Report abuse

I believe senator Obama is making the right choice here. Too many Presidential debates makes them redundant and less exciting as we dont get to hear anything new.

Posted by: Zhonni | August 19, 2007 12:52 AM | Report abuse

txjenkins: Hopefully that will come as time passes. So far they have shown me nothing. Anyone with the sense God gave a goose knows in advance most of the questions that will be asked.

Posted by: lylepink | August 19, 2007 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Good! The media has all but corinated Hillary Clinton anyways and any debate they sponsor is going to nothing more than a showcase for her. Edwards ought to join Obama and tell the media to either play the game fairly or take a hike. I am not interested in a dog and pony show featuring Clinton.

Posted by: MikeB | August 19, 2007 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Speach writer for Hire:

You have my full concent to use this line during the debate;

'Hillary, what do you have to say about people calling you the fattest lobbyist pig with lots of expensive media lipstick? And will you ((REALLY)) continue to pocket the lobbyist dollars, as you claimed you would in the last debate?'

Posted by: Timmaaay!!! | August 19, 2007 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I couldn't care less about face-to-face meetings. I have no desire to meet in person any politicians... I'd rather learn about the candidates in televised/internet broadcast interviews both individually and as a group. and how about some factual biographical information?

Posted by: test | August 19, 2007 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Hooray for Senator Obama. I forget what it looks like in a Democratic primary heap, but I think that's called "leadership."

Posted by: Anonymous | August 19, 2007 12:03 AM | Report abuse

I want a series of one-topic debates. We've had enough of the 'one question on every topic' debates and forums. Serious issues demand to be treated seriously, not with one-liners and soundbites.

Posted by: TomJx | August 18, 2007 11:56 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama, for once, has said something that makes sense. Nobody has said anything substantive in all those debates anyway and they would be crazy if they did. If you review what has been said in the previous debates, Republican as well as Democrats, you will note that nothing out of the ordinary has been said by anyone. They will all save their best shots for when people pay attention and when it counts. Why say something controversial now and have to defend it for the rest of the summer and fall. Let's wait till early winter to shoot the heavy artillery.

Posted by: Opa2 | August 18, 2007 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama, for once, has said something that makes sense. Nobody has said anything substantive in all those debates anyway and they would be crazy if they did. If you review what has been said in the previous debates, Republican as well as Democrats, you will note that nothing out of the ordinary has been said by anyone. They will all save their best shots for when people pay attention and when it counts. Why say something controversial now and have to defend it for the rest of the summer and fall. Let's wait till early winter to shoot the heavy artillery.

Posted by: Opa2 | August 18, 2007 11:48 PM | Report abuse

The debates are not a final deciding factor in the choice of a candadate; they are simply one aspect of several, flawed as they are. It seems to me that Sen. Obama's withdrawing from the series of debats reflects his recognition that he can not stand the heat. Very Fred Thompson-like... If he cannot take the heat, I guess he is making the right decision to hide. It diminishes him as a plausible candidate in my eyes.

Posted by: Proteusdecision | August 18, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

donb,l attempts to ridicule my statement that Veteran's are part of the backbone of the Democratic Party, but I will let the evidence speak for itself. From Max Cleland and Sen. Daniel Inouye to recent attempts by such veterans like MAJ Paul Hackett and MAJ Tammy Duckworth and Congressmen Patrick Murphy, there is a long history of the poor men fighting a rich mans war stepping forward in the Democratic Party and providing leadership. No political party has a monopoly on speaking for the Vets, and they most definitely are a core part of the backbone of the Democratic Party.

My point was more that the Democratic Party constituency and base are the middle class and working class Americans who can not afford to participate in the exclusive forums set up by Obama and hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffet.

His refusal to participate in forums and debates before such 'special' interest groups as senior citizens, labor, or Veteran's groups speaks volumes that he is not bringing his campaign to the grassroots, unless you or anyone else believes that Oprah and her guest in Hollywood and Santa Barbara are part of a grassroots effort. I think they are the same well heeled individuals who have bought access just like his lobbyist friends who got him to the senate.

He is not participating for one reason only. When you put him on a stage with the other candidates, he comes up lacking. I have every faith the rest of my fellow Democrats will come to the same conclusion regardless if he participates in any of the debates or forums.

Posted by: clawrence | August 18, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Bo, you are so lost. Find out what is going on before you comment. The man is going to do debates. Actually, six more minimum. He is just not going to be led around by his nose. What hole are you in. Obviously, he never had your vote. After all you only have one vote. He is going to win by more than your one vote.

WJLePetomane the tactic of trying to remind people of Barack full name is not going to work. Everybody knows his name and not stuck on stupid. If that is where you are do not make the assumption that everyone is going to be manipulated by you reminding people of that. People have more reasoning ablility that stopping at a persons name in order to elect them president. Dah how dense is that.

Posted by: Dee | August 18, 2007 11:34 PM | Report abuse

FemaleNick: I think you are about right on this. Frankly, I am getting a little tired of dems playing this silly tit for tat against each other when they should be focused on winning the WH in 08.

Posted by: lylepink | August 18, 2007 11:01 PM | Report abuse

This sounds interesting.

Democracy Heads to Web Laboratory
Novel Online Forums
Reshape Presidential Debates,
But Will Voters Engage?
August 16, 2007; Page A4

The next big online experiment comes next month, when Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and the other Democrats participate in a forum co-sponsored by Yahoo, online magazine Slate and blog Huffington Post. Each candidate will be interviewed separately, answering the same questions posed by PBS host Charlie Rose.

But it won't be broadcast that way. Instead, viewers can mix the videos in any sequence they want. The "mashup" format allows viewers to turn the separate interviews into a kind of debate, by choosing among video snippets of the Democratic candidates answering the same questions and compare the answers back-to-back.

"The user will get to choose their path through the content," says Scott Moore, Yahoo's senior vice president of news and information. "It's up to the consumers on how much they want to consume and how they consume it."

Posted by: claire | August 18, 2007 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Hilllary clinton is now the best situated in the current top tier of candidates ,, however do not count out Sen Joe Biden & his amamzing wealth of experience esp in foreign policy ,, if bush had listed to Biden's plan about Iraq over 2 years ago we would not be sinking deeper into this incredible quaqmire and losing our brave troops In Iraq .... biden's thoughfulness and hands on foreign policy make him the perfect one to win this primary... barack Obama is a rising star in the dem party but needs more experience...we do not need a nother prez who is learning on the job ... 1 diaster in the name of george W, Bush is quite enough thank u !!

Posted by: susan from NJ | August 18, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Hilllary clinton is now the best situated in the current top tier of candidates ,, however do not count out Sen Joe Biden & his amamzing wealth of experience esp in foreign policy ,, if bush had listed to Biden's plan about Iraq over 2 years ago we would not be sinking deeper into this incredible quaqmire and losing our brave troops In Iraq .... biden's thoughfulness and hands on foreign policy make him the perfect one to win this primary... barack Obama is a rising star in the dem party but needs more experience...we do not need a nother prez who is learning on the job ... 1 diaster in the name of george W, Bush is quite enough thank u !!

Posted by: susan fron NJ | August 18, 2007 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I went to see RUSH HOUR 3 and I regret that I had to spend cash on it! Movie was a failer!~

Posted by: UnsognewIrono | August 18, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse


this column is about positioning.

try this position. People are beginning to catch on to the fact that a lot of opinions are "placed ads." That posters are really about placing the impressions that the

pollsters and pundits want placed. That real opinions are few and hard to come by. And the people that give them sound a little bit more real than...

your average pollster/huckster... and they usually read what the other posters have written.


Posted by: so let's be | August 18, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Do you think there will ever come a time when a viewer of a debate can watch and then make up their own mind without every talking head on the TV or talk radio telling us who "did the best or "did the worst" and what their "informed" opinion is of who should be ahead?
I also find that what I hear from the answers seems to be totally different from what others hear. Others in the media hear strength in the war on terror from Guilianni, yet all I hear is someone who can't answer most questions on any topic without mentionning 9/11 constantly as his fallback answer. I hear others praise Romney yet they never seem to call him a "flipflopper" for all his changed positions like they constantly derided John Kerry with. It seems that depending on the person, we can question the Clinton marriage ad nauseum but don't ask a republican about his?
I would love to hear any debate going and then have everybody else in the media keep quiet. I don't care what the opinions are of the papers because others will always say the Times can't be believed because they are too liberal, the Post can't be believed because they are too pro republican, etc. Everybody only wants to hear or read now what they already believe, so just give us the debate times, places, and then talk about something else that is really important to ALL people. It isn't as if the actual election was taking place next month!!

Posted by: visitor | August 18, 2007 10:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree with those that find the "debates" repetitive and shallow. It's merely a place for canned statements with the media hoping someone looses their cool and "makes news."

So if Obama's decision is the first blow against these silly shows, more power to him. These of course are not "debates." We just don't have a genuine debate where substantative issues are argued between candidates. The questions are put through moderators or for variety, a panel of journalists.

But would Clinton and Edwards necessarily drop these debates because Obama won't be there? Could Obama loose favor with these groups while Clinton and Edwards score points? And if two of the marquee players are still at a debate, insuring its media interest, might it help one of the minor candidates move into play? Couldn't a minor candidate moving up take some of Obama's support, if he is conspicuously the only one absent?

And then, if he realizes it's a mistake and comes back to the minor debates, won't he also get bad press for that, having to admit a strategy mistake?

Posted by: Alan in Missoula | August 18, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Good. I'm getting fed up with praise for Clinton for "running a flawless campaign."

We're not electing a campaigner. We're electing a President. She is not Presidential material. Her past judgment shows that. Her refusal to show her "record" and "experience" buried in a prez library shows that. Her only elected experience is five years as a US senator. There is not one major issue that has faced this country in the last five years that she took an initial leadership position on. Not one.

So if Obama bowing out of a few debates means I dont have to listen to the same pundits who cheerleaded the war now cheerlead Clinton, I will be very happy.

Posted by: kettledog | August 18, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Obama is really challenging conventional wisdom. He was the first to speak publicly against the Iraq war even before it began and since he entered the race, he has always been the first Presidential Candidate to take a stance publicly on major issues.

The first to challenge the cowardly status quo of not speaking to so-called enemy leaders.
The first to rule out nuclear weapons on civilians.
The first to say he'll do everything to root out Al Quida in Pak.
The first to challenge these stupid debates that are soundbite-driven and only focus on how well the candidates regurgitate conventional thinking.

McCain and Edwards campaigns expressed the same concerns in April, but they didn't have the courage to stand up and reject the debates.

Obama for Real Change in America.

Posted by: Diamond | August 18, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't think we want a president that can't make the time to answer the tough questions. He doesn't do good in debates so he is cutting and running. Shows him to be weak. He is putting his foot down and running from the questions. He just lost me.

Posted by: Bo | August 18, 2007 9:40 PM | Report abuse

As usual, obama is the voice of common sense.
He knows these debates are a joke and until they can find a format for real debate then all it is is a cattle call.
Of course the Hillarybots are upset. No one will be that interested in them unless obama is there.
And the braindead pundits will be upset as they won't have their weekly excuse to try and shove Hillary down our throats and ignore who the people pick as the winner (which is never their beloved Hillary).

Posted by: vwcat | August 18, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Obama is putting his foot down?
What type of shoe is he wearing?

Posted by: Ted | August 18, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

"Veterans are a backbone group of the Democratic party"?

Never heard that one. Been a long time since Vietnam and there have been millions of troops enter on the all-volunteer basis since then and they are predominantly Republican......

The Democratic part is just made up of special interest groups: Blacks, organized labor, environmentalists, anti-war and lawyers to name a few......... What a problem to have this many special interest groups with different agendas. Look at Pelosi and her new competitor in San Francisco.

Posted by: donb,l | August 18, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I am so sick about the same questions be asked over and over! Anderson Cooper's overt concern over Gay people's right to matrimony and non-sense about Bush's quagmire in Iraq. Of course I would love to ask Hillary (why do we feel we could call her that?), How can we ask you to run our government when YOU had NO idea that your husband was cheating on YOU multiple times? AND What experience does she hold over Obama and Edwards? Both have served longer in multiple government elected positions than her! She was so close to her husband's government that she did not know her husband was having sex with an intern, and so close to the White House staff, that no one would tell her! ASK HER THAT! I have NEVER voted for a Republican, EVER! I won't vote for a Republican next election either! But, if Hillary is the Democratic nominee, I will stay home and not vote for the party that is their candidate either! That is my promise!

Posted by: Jim | August 18, 2007 9:05 PM | Report abuse

"Ultimately, the one group left out of the current schedule is the voters and they are the ones who ask the toughest questions and most deserve to have those questions answered face to face."

And were better to engage those voters than on the front lawn of Oprah's exclusive 'celebration' of Obama's defeat. This guy is tanking fast. I hope that Sen. Clinton and Mr. Edwards understand that those special interest groups like veterans and labor members are the backbone of the Democratic Party, and continue to present their credentials for the Democratic nomination.

Simply because Sen. Obama doesn't stack up well when presented in comparison to the other candidates is no reason to for our 'frontrunners' to abandon these forums.

I know that like many of the other millions of voters in the Democratic Party, I can not afford a ticket to this exclusive 'new politics' at the homes of Warren Buffet and Oprah Winfrey.

Posted by: clawrence | August 18, 2007 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Russian Complication

So the House Task Force's report was shipped off to the printers with its conclusion that there was "no credible evidence" of Republican double-dealing with Iran over the 52 U.S. hostages in 1980.

The report was scheduled for release on Jan. 13, 1993, just one week before George H.W. Bush's Presidency officially would come to an end. But there was still one more surprise for the October Surprise Task Force.

On Jan. 11, 1993, Hamilton received a response to a query he had sent to the Russian government on Oct. 21, 1992, requesting any information that Moscow might have about the October Surprise case.

The Russian response came from Sergey V. Stepashin, chairman of the Supreme Soviet's Committee on Defense and Security Issues, a job roughly equivalent to chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In what might have been an unprecedented act of cooperation between the two longtime enemies, Stepashin provided a summary of what Russian intelligence files showed about the October Surprise charges and other secret U.S. dealings with Iran.

In the 1980s, after all, the Soviet KGB was not without its own sources on a topic as important to Moscow as developments in neighboring Iran. The KGB had penetrated or maintained close relations with many of the intelligence services linked to the October Surprise allegations, including those of France, Spain, Germany, Iran and Israel.

History had shown, too, that the KGB had spies inside the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. So, Soviet intelligence certainly was in a position to know a great deal about what had or had not happened in 1980.

The Supreme Soviet's response was delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow by Nikolay Kuznetsov, secretary of the subcommittee on state security. Kuznetsov apologized for the "lengthy preparation of the response." It was quickly translated by the U.S. embassy and forwarded to Hamilton.

To the shock of the Task Force, the six-page Russian report stated, as fact, that Casey, Bush, CIA officials and other Republicans had met secretly with Iranian officials in Europe during the 1980 presidential campaign.

The Russians depicted the hostage negotiations that year as a two-way competition between the Carter White House and the Reagan-Bush campaign to outbid one another for Iran's cooperation on the hostages.

The Russians asserted that the Reagan-Bush team indeed had disrupted Carter's hostage negotiations, the exact opposite of the Task Force's conclusion.

As described by the Russians, the Carter administration offered the Iranians supplies of arms and unfreezing of assets for a pre-election release of the hostages. One important meeting occurred in Athens in July 1980 with Pentagon representatives agreeing "in principle" to deliver "a significant quantity of spare parts for F-4 and F-5 aircraft and also M-60 tanks ... via Turkey," the Russian report said.

The Iranians "discussed a possible step-by-step normalization of Iranian-American relations [and] the provision of support for President Carter in the election campaign via the release of American hostages."

But the Republicans were making their own overtures to the Iranians, also in Europe, the Russian report said. "William Casey, in 1980, met three times with representatives of the Iranian leadership," the report said. "The meetings took place in Madrid and Paris."

At the Paris meeting in October 1980, "R[obert] Gates, at that time a staffer of the National Security Council in the administration of Jimmy Carter and former CIA Director George Bush also took part," the Russian report said. "In Madrid and Paris, the representatives of Ronald Reagan and the Iranian leadership discussed the question of possibly delaying the release of 52 hostages from the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran."

Both the Reagan-Bush Republicans and the Carter Democrats "started from the proposition that Imam Khomeini, having announced a policy of 'neither the West nor the East,' and cursing the 'American devil,' imperialism and Zionism, was forced to acquire American weapons, spares and military supplies by any and all possible means," the Russian report said. The Republicans just won the bidding war.

"After the victory of R. Reagan in the election, in early 1981, a secret agreement was reached in London in accord with which Iran released the American hostages, and the U.S. continued to supply arms, spares and military supplies for the Iranian army," the Russian report continued.

The deliveries were carried out by Israel, often through private arms dealers, the Russian report said. Spares for F-14 fighters and other military equipment went to Iran from Israel in March-April 1981 and the arms pipeline kept flowing into the mid-1980s.

"Through the Israeli conduit, Iran in 1983 bought surface-to-surface missiles of the 'Lance' class plus artillery of a total value of $135 million," the Russian report said. "In July 1983, a group of specialists from the firm, Lockheed, went to Iran on English passports to repair the navigation systems and other electronic components on American-produced planes."

Posted by: look for Robert M. "the traitor" Gates name herein | August 18, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

If HRC is as smart and experienced as she and her supporters claim, Obama's decision to limit his participation in debates should have little impact on the democratic field. In fact, Clinton should be very pleased. Obama's decision provides the smaller field of candidates that she and Edwards wanted. Good decision and a great strategic move by the Obama team!

Posted by: dpack | August 18, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs some more time in the minors.

Two years as a US senator and no prior management experience does not make a president.

He has also eliminated himself from consideration as a VP candidate which would have been the smart move as he would have only been 60 when the 2016 election is run.

Posted by: donbl | August 18, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

was head of the Young Republicans at his alma matter.

OCTOBER SURPRISE... a small blurb about the politicization of the CIA.

of the CIA,

of the CIA.


State of Denial

Despite the mounting evidence that the Republicans indeed had made secret contacts with Iranian radicals in 1980, the House Task Force kept refusing to rethink its conclusions or to extend its investigation.

For its debunking, the Task Force relied on supposed alibis for Casey and Bush, but the investigators knew how shaky and uncorroborated those alibis were.

Meanwhile, the incriminating evidence kept on coming.

On Dec. 21, 1992, former CIA officer Charles Cogan recounted a remark in early 1981 from banker David Rockefeller's aide Joseph Reed to then-CIA Director William Casey about their success in blocking Carter's "October Surprise."

Reed had been Rockefeller's point man in helping the Shah of Iran after his 1979 ouster, which led the Khomeini regime to seek the withdrawal of billions of dollars from the Shah's accounts at Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan Bank.

Ironically, the Iranian hostage crisis worked to the bank's advantage because the U.S. government - as retaliation for the hostage-taking - froze those accounts. If the crisis were resolved quickly and the money suddenly unfrozen, Chase Manhattan's financial viability would be put in doubt.

After Reagan and Bush took office - and the Chase accounts remained frozen - Reed was appointed ambassador to Morocco, which led him to visit Casey at CIA headquarters, as Cogan lingered at the door to Casey's office.

"Joseph Reed said, 'we' and then the verb [and then] something about Carter's October Surprise," Cogan testified in a "secret" deposition. "The implication was we did something about Carter's October Surprise."

Task Force investigators understood the full quote to have been, "We f***** Carter's October Surprise," a claim that was at the heart of what the Task Force was assigned to investigate. But the Task Force left Cogan's recollection out of its report altogether.

The pattern of the Task Force's selective judgments began to grate on some of the Democratic congressmen assigned to the investigation.

Though the October Surprise allegations supposedly were a myth, the information developed by the Task Force staff was kept under tight security. Congressmen were only allowed to review the evidence in a secure room under guard.

The restrictions meant that many members were forced to rely on the Task Force staff that had been assembled largely by excluding anyone who thought the allegations might actually be true.

On Jan. 3, 1993, Congressman Mervyn Dymally, a California Democrat and Task Force member, submitted a dissent to the impending Task Force debunking of the October Surprise allegations. Dymally's dissent complained about selective handling of evidence to clear the Reagan-Bush campaign.

Dymally, who was retiring from Congress, cited the investigation's reliance on shaky circumstantial data for exonerating the Republicans and the uncritical acceptance of accounts from Casey's associates.

In reviewing the Task Force report, Dymally's staff aide, Marwan Burgan, quickly spotted some of the report's absurd alibis, including the claim that because someone wrote down Casey's home phone number on one day that proved Casey was home, or that because a plane flew from San Francisco directly to London on another important date that Casey must have been onboard.

Sources who saw Dymally's dissent said it argued that "just because phones ring and planes fly doesn't mean that someone is there to answer the phone or is on the plane." But Dymally's reasonable observations were fiercely opposed by Barcella, who enlisted Task Force chairman, Lee Hamilton, to pressure Dymally into withdrawing the dissent.

Dymally told me that the day his dissent was submitted, he received a call from Hamilton warning him that if the dissent was not withdrawn, "I will have to come down hard on you."

The next day, Hamilton, who was becoming chairman of the House International Affairs Committee, fired the staff of the Africa subcommittee that Dymally had headed. The firings were billed as routine, and Hamilton told me that "the two things came along at the same time, but they were not connected in my mind."

Hamilton said his warning to Dymally referred to a toughly worded response that Hamilton would have fired off at Dymally if the dissent had stood. However, hoping to salvage the jobs of some of his staff, Dymally agreed to withdraw the dissent.

Posted by: Robert M. Gates | August 18, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

There will be no President Barrak Hussein Obama,,,, never, ever. His name is doom in American politics.....

Posted by: WJLePetomane | August 18, 2007 8:40 PM | Report abuse

It is all for naught anyways. The Dems, thank goodness, don't have snow ball's chance in hell of getting elected in 2008. So they should just have fun and collect money and keep saying dumb things; kind of a last hurrah. Via Condios

Posted by: J. Worthington Edwards, III | August 18, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

With the improvement in Iraq, it would probably be good for the candidates to stop talking for a while and work on substance and refocus before another debate.

These candidates and their reliance on the anti-war emotion could be an albatross when the primaries show up or in November 2008.

Posted by: donbl | August 18, 2007 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Once again, Obama has lots of people discussing things that usually get are swallowed without question: the right battlefield on the fight against terrorists, nuclear posturing, common sense diplomacy, lobbyist influence, 90 second sound-bite pretend-debates, secrecy in government......once again Obama shows leadership just by being his authentic self.

Posted by: Donna | August 18, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I would be guarding the Clintons...

they are the last people insider WASHINGTON wants to see in the presidency...

which means to me, that it would be a good thing for AMERICA if they were in charge...

they know where the liars are.

.obama? he wants to "be friends," that's a good one...

Edwards? I don't know Edwards, he seems straight ahead, but like he could be led by someone like Kerry or Kennedy...

Elitist interests are not all REPUBLIC_SCAMS...

I wouldn't trust bushCO and CRONYs not to assassinate, pull electoral fraud or create another false flag attack...

George H.W. Bush was Director of the CIA , when he received reports that Allende, the President of CHILE' would be assassinated in Washington, D.C.....Allende' was assassinated no George H.W.'s watch, in Washington D.C.

as near as I can tell, Cheney/George H.W. Bush/Baker are collusionists with what we would normally call "our enemies"

and George H.W., and Cheney are associated with drug running in Central and South America as well as AFGHANISTAN...

think I am crazy?

good. SEARCH on Gary Webb, CIA, Letter of Understanding, Parry...

read the letter of understanding...

do you think George W. Bush wanted amnesty w/o background check so he could bring in his fathers Honduran Cowboys/Deathsquads into DHS as

border patrol agents? how cool would that be, to have your own drug runners patrolling the border...


I have seen no evidence that bushCO and CRONIES have any interest in AMERICA at all...

ps. the bushes, Rumsfeld, Baker, Rice, Gates, PNAC/AEI, war profiteers, Sand Bros, drug traffickers are

not in favor of losing their leverage, help them to earn a living, arrestthem.


Posted by: the point is this... | August 18, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

for the simple minded.


want someone that they can lead or intimidate.

someone relatively UNSEASONED, if a DEMOCRAT gets in power...

they don't want to be eviscerated by the Clintons...

Obama, couldn't hold his own, no matter how intelligent or nice a guy he is...

JIMMY CARTER was backstabbed by Robert M. Gates....who used the United States CIA against him...


Clinton, GORE, Dennis K., and several others would cut these crooks and thieves a new rear exit....

TOM DELAY in St. Louis 2 weeks ago, said "GET CLINTON," or it's over...

you tell me what AMERICA should do...

put someone controllable by insider Washington in control of the presidency or cut them a new exit....

cut them off at the feeding trough...

any grassy knolls in Iowa?


Posted by: again | August 18, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand the argument that Obama is inexperienced. In every statement he's made that has been accused as "inexperienced", has been later said to be actually what I think most Americans believe as true. I believe we need a President who is willing to talk to leaders of rogue nations and establish a positive dialogue. Don't we want a President who is active in searching out the actual terrorists who are planning another attack on our great nation? Isn't it common knowledge that nuclear weapons aren't to be used in a first strike scenario?
What pearls of great wisdom has Hillary given us? That lobbyists are representing real people?...that her husband is her greatest asset to her "experience". As far as I know being married to a doctor doesn't make you a doctor.
Obama is a leader. He has shown this time after time by standing firm against terrorists, proposing a more open and receptive foreign policy stance and providing a path to a comprehensive health care system. He is showing his leadership once again by not attending all of the non-sanctioned DNC debates.
I believe Hillary's "inexperience" is under estimating the voters. We see her flip flopping and trying to keep our government a secretive, manipulative and hostile place.
Democrats are just fooling themselves if they think Hillary is the only electable person. Her negatives are perceived higher than any other candidate. Obama is a breath of fresh air. I hope that America doesn't elect the wrong person once again.

Posted by: Steve | August 18, 2007 7:45 PM | Report abuse

bklynsam: I think Obama should demand that Hillary drop out of the race. Running for president against her just isn't fair.

Posted by: Mike Meyer | August 18, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

The Time 'Swampland' blog ran the story and added this update:
The spinning has already started. A source close to the Clinton campaign fired a zinger off quickly: "So he'll meet with dictators but not the black caucus or seniors in Iowa?"

That kind of low-class Rove-esque garbage is what you can expect from the Clinton campaign --hardly a surprise since they recently admitted admiration of Rove and Hillary's intention to emulate his tactics. And this is what some people want in the White House?

They also said the Obama campaign pointed out they will be doing the CBC debate as it falls outside the 'sanctioning' period, in January.

Posted by: bklynsam | August 18, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I confess that were I Hillary, I would ask only that I could stand next to the empty podium.

Posted by: Mike Meyer | August 18, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Great job Sen. Obama leading by example again. The funny thing is that the Hillary campaign is so quick to attack Obama decision that they don't even realize when they box in their candidate so now by attacking Obama decision not to attend all the debates they just locked Hillary into all the debates or risk being called a Flip flop yet again. Enough of the silly debates bring it to the voters and let them make a decision.

Posted by: Johhnie | August 18, 2007 7:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't know why anybody would want to pay any attention to these "debates." They aren't really debates but they are gab sessions.

Neither party should be proud of participating in these hen fests.

Posted by: mortified469 | August 18, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I think this was a good decision. Obama will still be participating in two debates per month; why isn't that enough? It's enough for me as a viewer. But then I'm basing my support on having studied all the candidates' positions on issues that matter to me, and not letting the media's soundbites make up my mind for me. Those who are protesting this decision are probably the ones who don't want to do the work of thinking for themselves.

Posted by: Gail | August 18, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Bravo Senator Obama!! The last thing we need is more soundbites and rehearsed replies. I am once again amazed at the leadership qualities that Obama demonstrates. Hillary is not only easy to rattle, but when knocked off her pre-planned game she is pitifully inept.

Posted by: Tom | August 18, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Hillary really goofed with her lobbyist comment. The day after she said that she starting sinking in the polls and her negatives are now sky high. That was the biggest blunder I've ever seen in a debate.

Posted by: Terry | August 18, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

The ideal debate scenario is to have each one focus only on the one topic most important to each of these groups for the entire 90 minutes, e.g., immigration during the upcoming UNIVISION debate. Medicare and Social Security were the AARP to host a debate, etc. That's also what I would like to see when it comes time to the REAL debates next year. Other than studying each of the candidates' positions in depth, it's the only other way we can really know what we're getting. Otherwise, it's back to high school elections -- a damned popularity contest.

Posted by: FemaleNick | August 18, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

A couple of leftover comments.
Are lobbyists bad? Well, as a retired math teacher and a Vietnam veteran, I suppose my lobbyists are the VFW, the VVAW, AARP, and the NCTM. I also worked as an engineer, so maybe IEEE sort of represents me. Lumping all lobbyists together is stupid. I worked very hard to teach students not to make gross generalizations, but I guess I didn't reach enough of them. I hope that I taught some of them about straw man attacks and attacks ad hominem. The Democratic candidates are generally okay. I will happily vote for any of them over the bunch the Republicans are offering.
I haven't been able to watch debates since Nixon and Kennedy went at it. Half-baked questions and 1-minute platitudes for answers.
Hillary for President, Barak for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (go fix New Orleans), Dennis for Commerce, John for Vice President, Thompson for Ambassador to Albania.

Posted by: Jon | August 18, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I just think the rest of the Dem candidates need to stay in certain major and smart debate events and be a part of it. Hillary and Edward should not follow Obama's action. Now he is playing a tactic as "retreating to gain in the leading position" if the other candidates follow his decision...that means he is the leader!!! But actually, he was loosing ground on the debate events and he was not feeling good of being put aside and criticised by the people who KNOWS. Let's be reasonable and elect the one who has enough experience and competent for the job, most of all, the one candidate who cares about the quality of living for all Americans. Who does not have a overdrive man's ego and who is a good public servant with an impressive record, a supportive mother and wife, an intelligent individual who is driven by building a better democratic country to lead the world. **we should not kill the debate platform which embraces the true spirit of democracy, the candidates should just pick the smart one to attend and a well-balanced choice is important.**

Posted by: mimi | August 18, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Clinton's campaign has been "flawless" in style only. Her ideology is still DLC and corporate-centric while her chances of winning in a Rovian campaign storm is slim as ever.

Posted by: shrike | August 18, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Obama may simply be tired of the sound-bite, gotcha tenor of the debates. A really good move in the opposite direction would be to suggest that he and Hillary Clinton dip into their war chests and buy enough time for a really serious confrontation on the issues:

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm not clear as to why people are attacking Obama for his decision. I can say you disagree with it, and even lay out an intelligent scenario why, but to attack him personally and call him a coward etc is beyond absurd. I wonder if some of you even read the actual article, because some of you are posting comments that seem to indicate Obama has pulled out of all debates.
He has 8 more debates to go before the end of the year, and he feels that 2 debates a month is quite ok. How does that translate to cowardice?

Another thing, the perception that Hillary has been winning the debates is put out there by the media. All the focus groups of undecided South Carolina voters agreed that Obama won the Youtube debate...hell...even the focus group on FOX NEWS agreed. The same thing applies to the AFL-CIO debate...Obama was seen as the clear winner by the focus group on CNN and CSPAN, yet the first thing out of Chris Matthews' mouth in the post-debate program was "Hillary was majectic!!", never mind that she got booed the most and Obama got the most cheers.

Funny enough...John Edwards today announced that as president his first move would be to engage directly with Iran's president...I wonder if Hillary will put out a statement calling Edwards "naive"....somehow I doubt it.

The man wants to debate less and talk to voters directly more...if you disagree and feel there should be more debates, then please say so but leave out the personal attacks.

Posted by: Chima | August 18, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Just more smoke ? Tata , is it just me ?LOL

Posted by: mgilfoy | August 18, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

What if somebody staged a debate and nobody showed up?

Posted by: Gerry | August 18, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

I will excerpt here what I posted on THE TRAIL (another blog on this site but which won't allow you to post anonymously):

"I expect the Hillary hatred from Republicans (they've had 15 years practice), but I am appalled when it comes from Obama or Edwards supporters. I am a Hillary supporter, and save for John Edwards and Mike Gravel, I also like all the other Democratic candidates. But I don't even badmouth these guys! I like that they're there -- well, except for Gravel who was amusing at first but got increasingly annoying.

The point is that if Obama got the nomination instead of Hillary, I'd have no trouble supporting him, albeit reluctantly. But what will other Democrats who hate Hillary do should she get the nomination? For whom will you vote? The Republican nominee? Or will you vote for an independent and risk another Republican administration because of your Hillary Hatred? Nothing like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Say what you will about Republicans. Where they have it over us Democrats is that they don't bash their own kind to the degree we do. Republicans can have their favorites, but they stay focused on issues rather than personalities. They're in disarray at the moment primarily because of Iraq -- but they'll be disciplined when 08 comes.

Forget the primary debates...start imagining the Republican vs. Democratic presidential debates in '08. If you're truly an objective Democrat, then you will agree that only Hillary and Biden can stand toe-to-toe against any Republican nominee. And Hillary has had many more years of fighting off Republican smears and scare tactics.

Posted by: FemaleNick | August 18, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Obama is skipping this debates and several future ones because they EXPOSE HIS INEXPERIENCE AND THE PROBLEMS HE HAS COMMUNICATING his positions and/or ideas. From a strategic standpoint, it's probably a good move to pull him out of forums where he doesn't do well. Iowans may not be so forgiving with his decision, however.

If I lived there, I would be mad as hell that he blew us off.

Posted by: Political Puck | August 18, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Truth, I read:

"So from here on out, says Plouffe, Obama will only participate in the five remaining debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee -- two December debates in Iowa and a Sept. 9 debate in Miami to be aired on the Spanish-language channel Univision."

Does the arithmetic make sense to you? I actually cannot tell what this story means.
Can you?

Posted by: Mark in Austin | August 18, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I think the debates should be left to the American people to decide whoever they think answered a questioned correctly, instead of corporate media trying to push candidates to the people. The 2008 Presidential election will be an eye opener to all Americans, for there will be a lot of upsets in many polls. Three presidential debates are more than enough, the candidates are suppose to campaign and answer questions from likely voters.

Posted by: bluevoter A | August 18, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Obama is making a smart move. Like it or not, Hillary usually wins the "all participants" debate because she comes off as the most presidential. Not being on the same stage helps Obama, some.

Now, if the major GOP candidates would follow suit, Fred would be at a great disadavantage because he wouldn't get face time. Or, maybe he isn't a great debater and that's why he's opted out thus far.

Sunday's debate may be entertaining, and perhaps even enlightening.

Posted by: Truth Hunter | August 18, 2007 5:44 PM | Report abuse

As far as i know, the national poll is meaningless. We can debate it from now till tomorrow - same goes with presidential debate hosted by pundicts.

I am interested in debate like you-tube not another questions from washington insider. Frankly, this is a good move from Obama.

Any question asked from the campign trail would be reported in the media like we've seen in the last few months. Let the AP press do their job by going to the campign trail rather than reporting bunch of sound bite

I am quite happy with Obama's latest move. The more he take questions from the real voters the better are his chances.

Posted by: Bee | August 18, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Hillary's campaign flawless?...HA!!! you call being booed off the stage at the latest debate a flawless performance? Defending lobbyists is not a good idea. Hillary caught on tape criticizing Obama about ruling out nuclear weapons when she made the exact same statement. Flawless?, dont forget just because you lead in the polls does not mean you are going to win, ask Howard Dean.

Posted by: chris | August 18, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Clinton is quite likely to be rattled by this one. She may lose her cool tomorrow, who knows.
Good call by Obama. Not that many people watch the debates anyway. They mostly hear about the media's spin on the debates, which is different.

Posted by: lioness | August 18, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I think not having Obama and Clinton at the debates would be a good thing. A lot of time is given to them, and them not being there would give other candidates a chance to break out a little. It is still months before the first primary vote, and the media is already treating this as a two way race. Maybe they need to be reminded that around this time in 2003 Joe Lieberman was leading in the polls...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

The more I see of Hillary, the more I like her. So far, her campaign has been flawless.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

GROW UP MANY OF THESE DEBATES AREN'T EVEN TELEVISED. The ones that are he is committed to be at. Haillary should love it she will have more speaking time, maybe she will finally say something

Posted by: Dave | August 18, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Obama knows as well as anyone that you can reach far, FAR more people in a televised 90-minute debate than you can by spending the same amount of time glad-handing "personally" across Iowa and New Hampshire. The reality is that his performance in the Democratic debates has been mediocre at best, and he seems to put his foot in his mouth from his inexperience in each debate, opening himself to being taken to task by the Schoolmistress herself. And he rambles about generalities instead of offering concise insights about how he would actually perform the job of EXECUTIVE.

Backing out of more debates is simply Obama bowing to the reality that no one can poke holes in his tenuous grasp of details when he's just kissing babies and accepting hugs from pink fluffy grandmothers...and he doesn't have to share the stage with the commanding presence and fluent ability in the complexity of issues of Hillary Clinton. On the other hand, he COULD learn a lot by sharing the stage with her in January of 2009 as the Vice-President...and he WILL then be fully-prepared to be President in January of 2017.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Why would there be backlash from the other candidates or sponsors. The other candidates are free to attend. What does it say if they won't go if he doesn't. Afterall Biden and Dodd didn't attend the Gay and Lesbian debate. Mike G wasn't at the AFLCIO, nothing was said the debate went on. Does this mean they NEED Obama to get people to tune in or have a debate? If so, well that says something right there.

Afterall wasn't it Hillary and Edwards caught whispering that they wanted fewer people on the stage at the debates?

Bet the other campagins which they had thought of it first. Now they can't look like they are following Obama's lead. LOL

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

The one drawback of having so many debates is that many people won't tune into them all. It is only the scorekeepers in Washington that will be getting the full view of how the candidates perform. I would think it would take the pressure off not having one or two make-or-break encounters.

Posted by: | August 18, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Once again Senator Obama demonstrates what it takes the lead. True to form, the Senator promised to do things differently. This election belongs to te American people, not corporate media and the pundits. Candidates ought to be answering to the electorate. They simply should not be answering to corporate media which not only decides the questions but also spins the answers and scores the winners. On more than several occasions, Senator Obama won because he spoke to what people want but the corporate media and those paid to spin to the heart's content of Washington scored Clinton 'for being nuanced and evasive'....whatever that means. I applaud the Senator and his campaign team. You have taken control of the process. Now let's see how HRC will evade answering the American people and how pundits and the Washington talkingheads will score that one!

Posted by: Peter M | August 18, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

It's no secret that some of the toughest battles our troops fight begin when they return from overseas. That's why it didn't surprise me a bit this week, when the Army announced that suicides were at their highest rate in 26 years.

There are immense pressures on our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. They're being asked repeatedly to go back into the fight -- first for 12-month deployments, and now for 15-month tours. During these tours, the troops are only allowed a single two-week break to return to their families. When we do this to them, with very little respite, the military starts to break down.

Posted by: Martin | August 18, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

If passed, the Bush administration's long-sought 'hydrocarbons framework' law would give Big Oil access to Iraq's vast energy reserves on the most advantageous terms and with virtually no regulation. The framework law proposes to hand over effective control of as much as 80 percent of the country's oil wealth.

A recent poll showed that all Iraqi ethnic and sectarian groups across the political spectrum oppose the principles enshrined in the oil law, and 419 Iraqi oil experts, economists and intellectuals recently signed their names to a statement expressing grave concern over the bill. The head of the Iraqi Federation of Union Councils said recently, "If the Iraqi Parliament approves this law, we will resort to mutiny."

Posted by: what it's all about | August 18, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

It is time that a serious candidate blew the whistle on this ridiculous early campaign. We voters do not need for our candidates to be exhausted all of the time. Hopefully Obama and his rivals will be fresher because of his decision, and we will get serious statements and not just flubs from fatigue at future face-to-face events.

Posted by: oldhonky | August 18, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Your opinion that Sen Clinton can be "rattled" is nonsense. The debates have shown that she is best prepared to lead the party and then the country. Your attack can only help the republicans. The senator from Illinois is simply not ready to be president and the people of this country in their present state of mind will not elect him. The republicans pray that he would be the nominee. Sen.Clinton is the only candidate who could beat any Republican. For you to gang up on her will be a disaster for the party and the country.

Your belief

Posted by: Alen J. Kozupsky | August 18, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Good for Senator Obama. It's about time one of the candidates said this. Nothing personal but I don't need to hear the same questions asked 30 different times, by 30 different pundits. I think I've watched two debates so far and that's enough for me until the Fall. I'd guess since Hillary tends to watch what he does and then follow, that she will wait and see what tye of reaction he gets and then do the same. Frankly, this isn't any different than Giuliani and McCain deciding not to go the Iowa straw poll.

Posted by: bluevoter | August 18, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The question that should be asked of each candidate:

"What is your plan to restore Constitutional Government?"

Posted by: lambert strether | August 18, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

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