Senator Barack Obama, D-Illinois.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama will limit the number of debates and forums he will attend and instead focus more of his time campaigning in key presidential primary and caucus states, the Illinois Democrat's campaign manager announced on Saturday.
In a statement posted on Obama's website, "Debates and forums going forward," campaign manager David Plouffe notes that Obama has already participated in seven debates and 19 forums. With just a little more than four months before the Iowa caucuses, the Obama campaign has decided to take more control of the senator's schedule.
"Unfortunately, we simply cannot run the kind of campaign we want and need to, engaging with voters in the early states and February 5 states, if our schedule is dictated by dozens of forums and debates," Plouffe wrote. "Ultimately, the one group left out of the current schedule is the voters and they are the ones who ask the toughest questions and most deserve to have those questions answered face to face."
The Illinois Democrat will participate in the five remaining Democratic National Committee sanctioned debates, a September debate sponsored by Univision in Florida and two Iowa debates in December. Obama will also consider participating in forums - events where candidates are not on the stage at the same time - but Plouffe noted "we are unlikely to accept many of these."
Ploffe acknowledged it is a risky strategy, because it could alienate important Democratic constituencies who were planning debates and forums in the coming months.
"Many friends and terrific organizations are sponsoring or planning to sponsor debates and forums," Plouffe wrote. "So this is not an easy decision for us to execute. But it simply won't work to navigate this one by one. We felt we needed to make our approach clear and consistent. I think this approach will be better for the voters and the campaign."
Plouffe said the campaign will evaluate what debates to participate in when the calendar turns to January.
The next DNC sanctioned debate will be held Sunday morning in Iowa and broadcast on ABC.
– CNN's Jamie Crawford and Mark Preston