Sen. Hillary Clinton called for a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate with no moderator against her rival, Sen. Barack Obama, who says no more debates are needed before the May primaries.
In a TV interview to air Sunday, Obama flat-out denied any possibility that he would take part in a debate with Clinton before the next big round of primaries.
Shortly after maintaining that he isn't "ducking" debates with his Democratic rival, the Illinois senator admitted that the two hopefuls are "not going to have debates between now and Indiana."
Voters in Indiana and North Carolina will head to the polls May 6.
In the interview, Fox News' Chris Wallace asked Obama why he was ducking another one-on-one meeting.
"I'm not ducking one. We've had 21," Obama said. "We want to make sure we're talking to as many folks possible on the ground taking questions from voters."
How incredibly lame from Obama. This is the complete repudiation of the claim he represents any "new moment" in American politics. Ironically, he is now running as the "establishment" candidate. This would be fine were he crushing Clinton, but Obama's weaknesses are many and varied, and have directly contributed to this prolonged nomination battle. If Obama had the skills necessary to take on Clinton in a one-on-one-flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants debate he could end this race here and now.
He doesn't have such skills. In fact, when forced off of his prepared material he has shown himself prone to spectacular pratfalls of, almost, George Bush quality. (All he needs is Bush's penchant for stupid nicknames to equal the President on this score.) Given this truth, Obama's handlers have him taking the cowards way out and have him avoiding political risks at all costs. It isn't a stupid thing to do were this a general election campaign, where you just need to win no matter the way you do it. But in a nomination process, where you want to launch yourself into the general election with as much positive momentum as possible, this comes across as incredibly weak.
Obama is basically a mystery meat lunch special, which we are just supposed to take as is without asking a lot of questions about its origins (or what it will do to our insides after we consume it.) The more scrutiny he receives the less appetizing he becomes.
Cross-post Blue Crab Boulevard