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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama Campaign: “The Debate Is On.”

posted by on September 24 at 12:55 PM

Which means, as they say in the nonpolitical world, it’s on.

No official reaction yet from Obama himself—the “debate is on” quote is just from a senior campaign official. But if ABC’s report is right, and if it’s representative of where Obama is going with this, his reaction is similar to my first reaction.

Obama supporter and chief debate negotiator Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., told MSNBC that “we can handle both,” when asked about his reaction to McCain’s call to postpone the first debate because of the administration’s bailout plan.

RSS icon Comments

Posted by Sam M. | September 24, 2008 12:55 PM

I really like the choice of words of "We can handle both."Although, that is a little risky if it turns out that we CAN'T handle this economic crisis.

Actually, if we can't handle it, we're going to have bigger things to talk about than a few words.

Posted by Beej | September 24, 2008 12:57 PM

In WWE-speak, this is called a "SMACKDOWN"!!! Lovin it.

Posted by Raven | September 24, 2008 12:57 PM

Well, you know, after spending the day debating the bailout bill, then catching the early bird special for a nice dinner, Grandpa McCain might be too tired to debate.

Posted by Hernandez | September 24, 2008 12:58 PM

This could -- or should -- spell the end of McCain's campaign, if he's perceived as weaker or flinching in the face of considerable challenges. Rarely do we get to witness presidential candidates in the late stages of an election react to a major ongoing political crisis, and more than any campaigning, mudslinging, or advertising the candidates do, shows what kind of leaders they are in times like this. Obama seems to be keeping his cool. McCain can only handle one thing at a time and is in meltdown.

Posted by David | September 24, 2008 1:01 PM

I have a dream: McCain, flummoxed by Obama calling him out on some accidental gaffe he is prone to make, has a temper tantrum during the debate, effectively ending his political career.

Posted by Trevor | September 24, 2008 1:02 PM

Let me get this straight. The Obama team calls up the McCain team and asks to postpone the debate and release a joint statement about it. McCain team says ok and, minutes later issues an independent press release, making it look like McCain's idea. Obama team turns around and says no, we won't postpone the debate, we can handle both.
That's awesome, McCain's team tried to screw Obama, and Obama's team gave it right back.

Posted by A | September 24, 2008 1:06 PM

Message to McCain: It's called MULTITASKING. If you can't do your gig as a senator while running for president, how do you expect to manage the job of US President?! Dear fellow, perhaps you should be considering retirement. You look tired. Do us all a favor and lead the leisurely life of a retiree.

Posted by Madashell | September 24, 2008 1:07 PM

So is Obama going to debate Michael Steele on Friday instead, then?

Posted by mackro mackro | September 24, 2008 1:10 PM

@7: They never offered to postpone the debate. Obama's camp proposed that they [McCain and Obama] issue a joint statement in support of a package to help fix the economy as soon as possible.

Posted by Al | September 24, 2008 1:11 PM

Obama should look brilliant debating him self. God knows he's been on both sides of most issues, so maybe it's time this happened. I wonder which Obama will win?...

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 24, 2008 1:13 PM

Oh nicely done Obama camp. Touche!

Posted by Jaxxi Hax | September 24, 2008 1:13 PM

@7 And the McCain campaign can't point to Obama's campaign and say they thought of it first without admitting that they were trying to screw the Obama campaign. They're weaselly cowards either way.

And this is how you win elections.

Posted by whatevernevermind | September 24, 2008 1:14 PM

7 - not quite. obama didn't call to postpone the debate, he called to release a joint statement on fixing the financial crisis. mccain said yes, and then tacked on the debate postponement in the press release -- without notifying obama first -- framing it in a way that if obama doesn't agree, he's putting politics first, hates america, etc. then obama comes back and says no, we can handle both.

the wheels are coming off the mccain campaign. all obama has to do at this point is keep a cool head.

Posted by brandon | September 24, 2008 1:15 PM

Still not sure how this will play in the real world, aka outside slog.

Posted by superyeadon | September 24, 2008 1:16 PM

@11. You may be be confused, but it's actually not 2004. That whole "you're candidate is a flip-flipper meme" is old news. Get on board.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | September 24, 2008 1:16 PM

Good attempt but Obama has been pretty consistent in the issues, now McSame on the other hand has taken flip flopping to a new art form.

Posted by Who is Kidding Who | September 24, 2008 1:18 PM

This is why you gotta love Obama whether you agree with his politics or not.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | September 24, 2008 1:20 PM

Ahh, ok, thanks for the clarification. I'm glad he said no, there's no reason that this shouldn't be discussed in front of the American people during the debate on Friday. Their decisions here are exactly the kind of thing people should be voting about, not all the extraneous emotional fear issues that get talked about so often.

Posted by A | September 24, 2008 1:25 PM

Someone needs a nap.

Posted by DOUG. | September 24, 2008 1:27 PM

Fuck it! We'll do it live!

Posted by Jesse | September 24, 2008 1:31 PM

(Stolen from another forum:)


Posted by JC | September 24, 2008 1:35 PM

DAMN!! I really wanted McCain to totally loose his temper during the debate. Have him start calling Obama a n*gger or a c*nt and start throwing things at him. Seriously, I would make that Pay Per View!!

Posted by Andrew | September 24, 2008 1:35 PM

@16 & 17

Collection of Obama Flip-Flops from

In no particular order...

• Special interests In January, the Obama campaign described union contributions to the campaigns of Clinton and John Edwards as "special interest" money. Obama changed his tune as he began gathering his own union endorsements. He now refers respectfully to unions as the representatives of "working people" and says he is "thrilled" by their support.

(Source: Washington Post)

• Public financing Obama replied "yes" in September 2007 when asked if he would agree to public financing of the presidential election if his GOP opponent did the same. Obama has now attached several conditions to such an agreement, including regulating spending by outside groups. His spokesman says the candidate never committed himself on the matter.

(Source: Washington Post)

• The Cuba embargo In January 2004, Obama said it was time "to end the embargo with Cuba" because it had "utterly failed in the effort to overthrow Castro." Speaking to a Cuban American audience in Miami in August 2007, he said he would not "take off the embargo" as president because it is "an important inducement for change."

(Source: Washington Post)

• Illegal immigration In a March 2004 questionnaire, Obama was asked if the government should "crack down on businesses that hire illegal immigrants." He replied "Oppose." In a Jan. 31, 2008, televised debate, he said that "we do have to crack down on those employers that are taking advantage of the situation."

(Source: Washington Post)

• Decriminalization of Marijuana: While running for the U.S. Senate in January 2004, Obama told Illinois college students that he supported eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana use. In the Oct. 30, 2007, presidential debate, he joined other Democratic candidates in opposing the decriminalization of marijuana.

(Source: Washington Post)

• Running for President or Vice President of the United States: On the January 22nd edition of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert and Obama had the following exchange:Russert: “When we talked back in November of ‘04 after your election, I said, ‘There’s been enormous speculation about your political future. Will you serve your six-year term as United States senator from Illinois?’”Obama: “I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things. But my thinking has not changed.”Russert: “So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?” Obama: “I will not.”

(Source: Audacity of Hyprocrisy)

• Single-Payer Healthcare: On January 22nd, the Hillary Clinton Campaign releases a video that proves that Obama lied about his position on “single-payer healthcare.”The video compares statements Obama made during the January 21st Democratic debate with those he made to an AFL-CIO conference in June 2003 while campaigning for the Senate. Contradicting what Obama said at the debate, the old footage shows the senator saying, “I happen to be a proponent of single-payer universal healthcare coverage. That’s what I’d like to see.”At the debate, Obama stated: “I never said that we should try to go ahead and get single-payer (healthcare).”Single-payer healthcare is an euphemism for socialized medicine.

(Source: Audacity of Hypocrisy)

• NAFTA: On February 29th, the Obama campaign told Canadian Television (CTV) that no message was passed to the Canadian government suggesting that Obama does not mean what he says about opting out of NAFTA if it is not renegotiated.However, the Obama camp did not respond to repeated questions from CTV on reports that a conversation on this matter was held between Obama’s senior economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, and the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago.Earlier Thursday, the Obama campaign insisted that no conversations have taken place with any of its senior ranks and representatives of the Canadian government on the NAFTA issue. On Thursday night, CTV spoke with Goolsbee, but he refused to say whether he had such a conversation with the Canadian government office in Chicago. He also said he has been told to direct any questions to the campaign headquarters.CTV didn’t stop there. They announced that their sources, at the highest levels of the Canadian government,” reconfirmed the story to CTV and one of their primary sources provided a timeline of the discussion to CTV.

(Source: Audacity of Hyprocisy)

• Donations from Lobbyists and Special Interest PACS: Obama say he doesn’t take money from DC lobbyists and special interest PACS. This is the type of double-talk “politics of the past” rhetoric Obama rails against.While his claim is technically true, what he does do is take money from state lobbyists and other big money contributors who have substantial lobbyist machines in DC, like law firms and corporations.In April 2007, the LA Times quoted the Campaign Finance Institute’s Stephen Weissman as pointing out that the distinction Obama makes on lobbyist money is meaningless: “He gets an asterisk that says he is trying to be different. … But overall, the same wealthy interests are funding his campaign as are funding other candidates, whether or not they are lobbyists.”The Capital Eye reported that “[a]ccording to the Center for Responsive Politics, 14 of Obama’s top 20 contributors employed lobbyists this year, spending a total of $16.2 million to influence the federal government in the first six months of 2007.”

(Source: Audacity of Hyprocisy)

• Rev. Jeremiah Wright: Barack Obama repudiated what he called “inflammatory and appalling remarks” made by his Chicago pastor.Obama said he had not been present during the sermons in question.Obama told MSNBC, “Had I heard them in church I would have expressed that concern directly to Rev. Wright.”Please note, he says that he would have expressed concern, not repudiate, the words. (Source: Audacity of Hypocrisy) Previously Obama had said "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."

(Source: The Hill's Pundits Blog)

• Jerusalem: "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided," Obama declared Wednesday, to rousing applause from the 7,000-plus attendees at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference.

But a campaign adviser clarified Thursday that Obama believes "Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties" as part of "an agreement that they both can live with."

(Source: Jerusalem Post)

• Meeting with Foreign Leaders: Obama Now Claims That He Will Only Meet With Foreign Leaders At A Time Of His Choosing If It Will Advance U.S. Interests, But Previously Said He Would Meet With Rogue Leaders His First Year In Office Without Preconditions:

In His Remarks To The AIPAC Conference, Obama Claimed That He Would Only Meet With The "Appropriate Iranian Leaders At A Time And Place" Of His Choosing. Obama: "Contrary to the claims of some, I have no interest in sitting down with our adversaries just for the sake of talking. But as President of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leaders at a time and place of my choosing - if, and only if - it can advance the interests of the United States." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At The Annual AIPAC Policy Conference, Arlington, VA, 6/4/08)

But At A July 2007 Debate, Obama Said He Would Meet With Hostile Leaders During His First Year In Office. Question: "[W]ould you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?"...Obama: "I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them - which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration - is ridiculous." (CNN/YouTube Democrat Presidential Candidate Debate, Charleston, SC, 7/23/07)

At A September 2007 Press Conference, Obama Confirmed That He Would Meet Specifically With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Question: "Senator, you've said before that you'd meet with President Ahmadinejad ..." Obama: "Uh huh." Question: "Would you still meet with him today?" Obama: "Yeah, nothing's changed with respect to my belief that strong countries and strong presidents talk to their enemies and talk to their adversaries. I find many of President Ahmadinejad's statements odious and I've said that repeatedly. And I think that we have to recognize that there are a lot of rogue nations in the world that don't have American interests at heart. But what I also believe is that, as John F. Kennedy said, we should never negotiate out of fear but we should never fear to negotiate." (Sen. Barack Obama, Press Conference, New York, NY, 9/24/07)

(Source: RNC via Fox Business)

• Legislation Labeling Iran's Revolutionary Guard A Terrorist Organization: Obama Has Been Inconsistent In His Views On Labeling Iran's Revolutionary Guard A Terrorist Organization. "Obama's campaign suddenly discovered that their man -despite having spent the last nine months campaigning on his opposition to Kyl-Lieberman - 'has consistently urged that Iran's Revolutionary Guard be labeled what it is: a terrorist organization.' Well, not that consistently. Senator Obama has been scrupulously careful not to call explicitly for designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Now, however, with the Democratic nomination almost in hand, Obama feels comfortable telling a pro-Israel audience what it wants to hear."(Danielle Pletka, "Obama's Pander Pivot," Weekly Standard, 6/4/08)

"[T]he Audience At AIPAC Might Ask Why Senator Obama Has Pivoted From Opposition To 'Lieberman-Kyl' To Support For The IRGC Designation His Audience Demands. Is This Really Change They Can Believe In?" (Danielle Pletka, "Obama's Pander Pivot," Weekly Standard, 6/4/08)

"Which Barack Obama Will Be The Democratic Standard-Bearer: The One Who Vowed To 'Eliminate' The Iranian Nuclear Threat Two Days Ago, Or The One Who Opposed Designating The Revolutionary Guards A Terrorist Organization?" (Editorial, "Obama And Iran," The Washington Times, 6/6/08)

(Source: RNC via Fox Business)

• Palestinian Elections In 2006: Obama Says That He Opposed Palestinian Elections In 2006. Obama: "There is no room at the negotiating table for terrorist organizations. That is why I opposed holding elections in 2006 with Hamas on the ballot. The Israelis and the Palestinian Authority warned us at the time against holding these elections, but this administration pressed ahead. And the result is a Gaza controlled by Hamas, with rockets raining down on Israel." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At The Annual AIPAC Policy Conference, Arlington, VA, 6/4/08)

But During His 2006 Trip To The Middle East, Obama Met With Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas And Said The Election Represented An "Opportunity...To Consolidate Behind A Single Government." "Illinois Senator Barack Obama's journey to the Middle East took him to the West Bank Thursday for a meeting with the man elected to replace Yasser Arafat. ... For a time Thursday in the West Bank there was only the clatter of cameras as the newly elected president of the Palestinian authority, Mahmoud Abbas, met with Illinois Senator Barack Obama. At a meeting with Palestinian students Thursday, Obama said the U.S. will never recognize winning Hamas candidates unless the group renounces its fundamental mission to eliminate Israel, and Obama told ABC7 he delivered that message to the Palestinian president. 'Part of the opportunity here with this upcoming election is to consolidate behind a single government with a single authority that can then negotiate as a reliable partner with Israel,' said Obama." (Chuck Goudie, "Obama Meets With Arafat's Successor," ABC 7 News,, 1/12/06)

The Palestinian News Agency WAFA Reported That Obama Was Supportive Of The Palestinian Elections Being Held At Their Scheduled Time. "President Mahmoud Abbas met Thursday with the U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), in the Presidential HQ in Ramallah...President briefed the U.S. Senator about the latest developments in the Palestinian territories including the preparations for the legislative elections.... Abbas and Obama discussed the means of underpinning the American-Palestinian economic relations...Obama asserted the US supports and eager that the Palestinian legislative elections on its proposed time (January 25)." ("President Meets U.S. Senator And Armenian Delegation," WAFA,, 1/12/06)

(Source: RNC via Fox Business)

• Iraq War: “At a time when American casualties are down, at a time when the violence is down, particularly affecting the Iraqi population, is that the right time to try and set time tables for withdrawing all American troops? I mean you talked about…the end of 2009,” Kroft remarked.

“Yeah, absolutely. I think now is precisely the time. I think that it is very important for us to send a clear signal to the Iraqis that we are not gonna be here permanently. We’re not gonna set up permanent bases. That they are going to have to resolve their differences and get their country functioning,” Obama said.

“And you pull out according to that time table, regardless of the situation? Even if there’s serious sectarian violence?” Kroft asked.

“No, I always reserve as commander in chief, the right to assess the situation,” Obama replied.

(Source: 60 Minutes via Dirty Harry's Place)

• The Threat of Iran: Obama's comments in Oregon yesterday:
I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us....You know, Iran, they spend one-one hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn't stand a chance.And we should use that position of strength that we have to be bold enough to go ahead and listen. That doesn't mean we agree with them on everything. We might not compromise on any issues, but at least we should find out other areas of potential common interest, and we can reduce some of the tensions that has caused us so many problems around the world.
Today in Montana, Obama changed his tune:
Iran is a grave threat. It has an illicit nuclear program. It supports terrorism across the region and militias in Iraq. It threatens Israel's existence. It denies the Holocaust...

(Source: Weekly Standard)

• North Korea: U.S. Democratic presidential frontrunner Senator Barack Obama has recently indicated he no longer opposes the removal of North Korea from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Obama in January 2005 came out against the removal of the Stalinist nation from the list until it gives an account of the kidnapping and death in the North of the Rev. Kim Dong-shik in 2000.

(Source: ROK Drop)

• PATRIOT Act: "Giving law enforcement the tools they need to investigate suspicious activity is the right thing, and the Senate showed earlier this year that it can be done with the oversight of our judicial system so we do not jeopardize the rights of all Americans and the ideals America stands for. We should not let the PATRIOT Act expire at the end of this year, but instead extend the current law for three months so that we can come to an agreement on these critical issues in Congress."

(Source: Obama's Senate site)

On the Issues FactCheck: Promised to repeal Patriot Act, then voted for it.

(Source: On the Issues)

• Coal: Obama, whose support for coal-to-liquid has been widely criticized by environmentalists, sent out a press release clarifying his position on liquid coal:

Senator Obama supports research into all technologies to help solve our climate change and energy dependence problems, including shifting our energy use to renewable fuels and investing in technology that could make coal a clean-burning source of energy…However, unless and until this technology is perfected, Senator Obama will not support the development of any coal-to-liquid fuels unless they emit at least 20% less life-cycle carbon than conventional fuels.

This “clarification” is an important step for the Obama campaign in trying to gain support from environmental organizations and voters. However, the LA Times notes that his position change on this issue is even more significant because it symbolizes “there’s a race to the top among the Democratic candidates for the strongest position on how to solve the climate crisis.”

(Source: Carbon Coalition)

• PAYGO: Obama promised to "restore a law that was in place during the Clinton presidency—called Paygo—that prohibits money from leaving the treasury without some way of compensating for the lost revenue." but now Obama says he's not going to sacrifice his domestic priorities for deficit reduction. Universal health care, renewable energy, and all he rest won't be sacrificed on the altar of PAYGO.

(Source: Q and O)

• Meeting with Ahmadinejad:"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama underscored his willingness to talk to leaders of countries like Iran that are considered U.S. adversaries but said that does not necessarily mean an audience with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." (Caren Bohan, "Obama Says Won't Guarantee Ahmadinejad A Meeting," Reuters, 5/26/08)

"'There's no reason why we would necessarily meet with Ahmadinejad before we know he's actually in power. He's not the most powerful person in Iran,' Obama told reporters while campaigning in New Mexico." (Caren Bohan, "Obama Says Won't Guarantee Ahmadinejad A Meeting," Reuters, 5/26/08)

But in July 2007, Obama said he would meet with the leaders of hostile foreign nations, including Iran:
At a July 2007 debate, Obama announced he would personally meet with leaders Of Iran, North Korea, Syria and other hostile nations "without precondition."

Question: "[W]ould you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?"

Obama: "I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them - which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration - is ridiculous." (CNN/YouTube Democrat Presidential Candidate Debate, Charleston, SC, 7/23/07)

(Source: RNC via NewsMax)

• Illegal Immigrants and Driver's Licenses: As a state senator in Illinois, Obama voted to require illegal immigrants to get a driver's license. The change? In the November 2007 CNN debate, he was asked what his stand was on that issue and he said, "I am not proposing that's what we do."

(Source: Nashua Telegraph)

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | September 24, 2008 1:35 PM

Live TV? Excellent! That's just the turn of events Palin needs. She can pull off her wig and turn out to be Dustin Hoffman!

Posted by Al | September 24, 2008 1:37 PM

@24: you lost everyone after the first paragraph. And nobody trusts talking points from the RNC or NewsMax.

Posted by Jessica | September 24, 2008 1:40 PM

Wow. Didn't know the "Obama's a Socialist Muslim" conspiracy email had grown that large. Do you also have the one that lists the 42,241 people Bill & Hillary had killed in the past 30 years?

Most of your points are the same "audience based message" contortions EVERY POLITICIAN makes. I would not hold it against McCain if he stroked ex-cuban mobsters in Tampa or Israel-first jewish dreamers in Palm Beach with whatever they want to hear, then said the opposite to groups with different outlooks. It's how you get votes. The hypocrisy is saying that you want more regulation of the financial services industry, when you've spent 20+ years voting/working against that very thing.

It's one thing for your campaign speeches to pander to the crowd in front of you, it's another thing to use your political power to mess up the economy and then deny it ever happened.

Posted by Sir Vic | September 24, 2008 2:07 PM

24 - How bout just a link next time?

Posted by Judith | September 24, 2008 2:12 PM

"We can handle both."

You know, Presidents sometimes have to be able to deal with more than, say, one problem at once.

It's a big job. Not for easily confused, simple-minded, forgetful people.

Posted by K | September 24, 2008 2:47 PM


He voted to require that illegal immigrants get drivers' licenses? Dear God, you really are that stupid.

Posted by keshmeshi | September 24, 2008 2:47 PM

Jessica for the win, @24 for the EPIC FAIL!

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 24, 2008 11:23 PM

I think Sarah should do the debate on Friday. Let's see how she comports herself when the old Senator is snoozing after a tough week.

What's really interesting is how "we're all in this bailout together" when GOP-loving CEO's were happily sending our jobs overseas and "letting the market" sort out our futures.

The GOP leadership has ruined this country. The irony: their own "Washington can't get anything right", repeated consistently, actually is hindering them from governing. The big bad government was asleep while Wall Street gift wrapped turd mortgages and sold them again and again, taking commissions with every transaction and getting super super rich.

Now, when the government needs to act, and needs the country's support, they can't rally it. Al Queda didn't do this to America.

George Bush and his pals did.

Posted by josh | September 25, 2008 10:16 AM

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