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FixCam Week in Preview: Debate Time!

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) will share a debate stage for the first time in 50 days on Wednesday in Philadelphia.

The debate, which is being sponsored by ABC News, comes at an intriguing time in the campaign -- as Obama seeks to put to rest questions about whether he is an elitist raised after remarks made to a group of San Francisco donors was made public.

The issue seems to be showing little sign of disappearing, with Clinton, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and a handful of Republican candidates and organizations from across the country continuing to fan the flames.

Two recent examples:

* Brian Davis, a Republican candidate seeking to challenge targeted Rep. Tim Walz in the fall, called on the Minnesota Democrat to renounce his superdelegate support for Obama. "We have learned a great deal more about Senator Obama in the past two months that is cause for concern," Davis said in a release. "I find it deeply troubling that Senator Obama's stated views on many topics are so out-of-step with mainstream American values. It is shocking, if not implausible, that a Congressman representing this District could support him."

* The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent out a release yesterday that read: John Kerry and Barack Obama: Elitist Liberals". In it, NRSC communications director Rebecca Fisher called on Kerry to speak up about whether he agreed or disagreed with Obama's small town comments. "When John Kerry endorsed Obama he said, 'History gives us moments. We get to decide what to do with them,'" said Fisher. "Well now is your moment John Kerry. Do you agree with Barack Obama's view of small-town Americans?" (Despite the clear Democratic tilt of Massachusetts, Republicans are targeting Kerry due in no small part to what they believe is the star potential of their candidate -- Jim Ogonowski.

Watch to see whether other Republican candidates running against Obama backers pick up this rhetoric between now and Wednesday night. If they do, it could mean real trouble for Obama, as it plays into Clinton's attempts to raise questions about the Illinois Senator's electability.

To date, Obama's campaign has fought back those charges by noting that downballot candidates are far more eager to run with him leading the ticket than her. But, if evidence that contradicts that sentiment arises over the next 48 hours, it could make for a very interesting debate.

The Fix will be in attendance at the National Constitution Center for the proceedings -- assuming this spring cold relents sometime between now and then. In the meantime, we need a name for Wednesday night's debate. The choices are below. Make your voice heard!

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 14, 2008; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  FixCam  
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