Clinton took the debate dispute to a new level, challenging Obama to face off with her in a debate without a moderator, Lincoln-Douglas style.This is Politics 101: If you're comfortably ahead, avoid debate, since that tends to give legitimacy to your opponent. If you're behind, demand debates -- and accuse your opponent of ducking you if he refuses.
"Just the two of us, going for 90 minutes, asking and answering questions, we'll set whatever rules seem fair," Clinton said while campaigning in South Bend. . . .
Trailing in delegates and the popular vote, Clinton has been stepping up the pressure on Obama for more debates in advance of primaries in nine days in Indiana and North Carolina. Clinton argued that Obama won't debate because he's unhappy with questions from moderators during the April 16 debate just before the Pennsylvania primary.
Obama was all in favor of debates when there were more than a half-dozen candidates in the Democratic primary field. The Democrats had more than 20 debates, and most of the time, the candidates took turns (a) bashing Bush, and (b) tag-teaming Hillary.
Once the field narrowed down to Obama and Hillary -- and once Rev. Jeremiah Wright's anti-American rants became an issue -- suddenly Obama decided he didn't need to debate as much. Funny how that happens.
Naturally, Obama declined Hillary's latest challenge:
Asked why he was repeatedly “ducking” Clinton’s debate challenges before the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, Obama said, as he has before, that he just wants to spend time with voters.Obama wants to keep "taking questions from voters" -- and continue saturating the airwaves with attack ads -- without having to answer tough questions in a live debate. Funny how that happens, too.
“I’m not ducking. We’ve had 21 (debates), and so what we’ve said is, with two weeks, two big states, we want to make sure we’re talking to as many folks possible on the ground taking questions from voters,” he said, so no debates.
“We’re not going to have debates between now and Indiana,” he said.
Remember that Obama's sitting on a huge mountain of campaign cash, while Hillary's campaign -- at least before she got a big haul after winning Pennsylvania -- was practically broke. Obama outspent Hillary about 3-to-1 in Pennsylvania.
When I covered Hillary for The American Spectator last week, I filed my story from the lobby bar at the Harrisburg Hilton (where they have free WiFi). There was a TV in the bar, and it seemed like every time I looked up, there was another Obama ad slamming Hillary for taking money from "special interests." In fact, one Obama ad even accused Hillary of "the same old politics, misleading negative ads":
The most amazing thing about Hillary's comeback in Pennsylvania is that she did it despite this tsunami of TV ads from Obama -- in which he repeatedly claims that he doesn't take money from special interests (corrupt slumlords like Tony Rezko apparently don't qualify as "special interests").