David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager, sends out this e-mail to, well, everyone:
Did you see the debate last night?
If you did, you saw more gotcha politics and distractions than questions about the pressing issues affecting our country.
In fact, it took more than 45 minutes before Barack was asked about the economy, health care, or foreign policy.
Regrettably, Senator Clinton seemed all too comfortable with that type of debate. She’s running a 100% negative campaign in Pennsylvania, taking every opportunity to make personal and discredited attacks against Senator Obama.
You can send a message that politics doesn’t have to be played this way.
Make your first donation today, and someone who’s already given will match whatever amount you decide to give. You can double your impact, and you’ll even get to see the name and town of the fellow supporter matching your first online gift.
Will you make a $25 donation now?
In the car earlier, I thought about the contrast with McCain. The guy does town hall meetings everywhere he goes. He has reporters on the bus with him all the time. He does conference calls with bloggers.
Does he ever grumble about some questions? Oh, once in a while we’ll see McCain get a bit curt with a New York Times reporter on his plane. I remember him getting surprisingly defensive in response to a question about Israel on one of those blogger calls, and I’m sure we all remember the “thanks for the question, you little jerk. You’re drafted!” (which everyone at the event understood as a joke, but was easy to take out of context). But all in all, McCain’s off-key answers have been pretty small potatoes. When the New York Times did that inane front-page story insinuating, but never quite coming out and accusing him of having an affair with a lobbyist, he took every question until no one had any left.
Meanwhile, Obama gets a couple questions on unpleasant topics — do you understand why your San Francisco comment bothered some Pennsylvanians? Why did you ask Jeremiah Wright to not play a role in your campaign kickoff? Why don’t you wear a flag pin? Can you explain your relationship with William Ayers? — and his supporters go apoplectic, some even screaming Obama should retaliate against ABC as President. And his campaign whines that it’s “gotcha politics and distractions.”
Hey, welcome to the big leagues, rookie. You’re gonna get some questions you’re not going to like. Not everybody gets to have their main opponent’s bid implode when their divorce records are unsealed and compete against Alan Keyes in a general election.
Seriously, if Barack Obama can’t handle questions like this from Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolous, maybe the portrait of the cracking-under-pressure whiner depicted in the Saturday Night Live sketch isn’t as wild an exaggeration as we thought.
UPDATE: Wow. Not only does Obama strike out against the pitching of Gibson and Stephanopolous, but his campaign strategist David Axelrod turns away in the spin room when Phil Klein asks him why Obama is tougher on Don Imus than Jimmy Carter when he meets with Hamas.
Also see Spruiell, both in column form and the Corner.