(CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama used a question during a campaign event Saturday to explain his unusual approach to politics.
“How do we get rid of that huge divisiveness in this country?,” a voter asked Obama in Anderson, Indiana.
“The president sets the tone,” the Illinois senator said before explaining the bipartisan approach he’d take if elected to the White House.
“But, I’m also going to try to show this during the course of the campaign,” he added. “Sometimes you take some hits. Even during this campaign, I’ve been taking some hits.”
“One of the things that I learned in the school yard was: the folks that are talking tough all the time, they’re not always that tough. If you’re really tough, you’re not always looking to try to start a fight. If you’re really tough, sometimes you just walk away. If you’re really tough, you just save it for when you really need it,” Obama said.
“I’m not interested in fighting people just for the sake of scoring political points.” “If I’m going to fight somebody it’s going to be fighting over the American people and what they need.”
Obama’s effort to explain his sometimes non-confrontational approach came on the same day that his rival Sen. Hillary Clinton proposed a Lincoln-Douglas style debate. Prior to Clinton’s challenge, Obama said in a television interview set to air Sunday that he would not agree to any more debates with Clinton before the May 6 primaries in North Carolina and Indiana. After learning of Clinton's proposal, the Obama campaign maintained that the Illinois senator would not participate in any more debates until after May 6.
(CNN) – When it comes to presidential politics, the bulk of the sports metaphors come from boxing – one candidate jabs the other, another is against the ropes. Watching an ad for an upcoming presidential debate can leave the viewer wondering whether it’s going to be on pay-per-view.
Over a year into the election cycle, the expressions are stale and Hillary Clinton must have gotten the memo because in recent weeks she has ventured beyond the ring and onto the field.
“I will be the best quarterback I can be for our country,” Clinton told guests at an April Democratic dinner in Pittsburgh where she received a Steelers’ jersey and a Terrible Towel. “We’re going to start calling some good plays. We’re going to go on offense as well as playing defense.”
Barack Obama may be the real athlete in the race, but standing on a platform over the South Bend Silverhawks’ home plate at a rally Saturday, Clinton couldn’t resist becoming a two-sport candidate.
“We’re going to hit some of those balls out of this stadium and out of our country stadium,” she announced, wielding a bat. “We’re going to round the bases, we’re going to score a lot of runs and we’re going to feel really good about the home team, namely the American team, the team we’re all a part of!”
The Terrible Towel is clearly part the team – “I will wave it as we go across that goal line for a better America in January 2009,” Clinton told the diners in Pittsburgh.
SOUTH BEND, Indiana (CNN) – Standing on the field of South Bend’s minor league baseball team the Silver Hawks, Hillary Clinton challenged Barack Obama to a debate in Indiana before the state's May 6 primary. Clinton has repeatedly asked for a debate before the next contest, but this time there was a twist.
“I’m offering Sen. Obama a chance to debate me one-on-one, no moderators. Just the two of us going for 90 minutes asking and answering questions, we’ll set whatever rules seem fair,” Clinton told supporters.
A letter sent from Clinton’s campaign manager to Obama’s revealed more details about the Lincoln-Douglas style debate – “No questioners, no panelists, no video clips. One candidate would speak for two minutes, then the other, alternating back and forth all the way through the debate. Their discussion – not any pre-set rules – would determine how long they spend on one subject before moving on to another.”
Obama has complained that the widely-panned April 16 debate in Philadelphia wasn’t substantive enough and points to the 21 debates the candidates have already participated in when asked why he doesn't want another.
“We’ve had four debates between Sen. Obama and myself,” Clinton countered, “we’ve had debates other candidates were in, but just four between the two of us.”
Shortly after Clinton’s remarks, Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod rejected the challenge out of hand, telling CNN, “In the next nine days we're going to devote our attention to the voters and we will see where we are after May 6. It doesn't matter whether it's Lincoln-Douglas, standing, sitting, what language it is in, it does not matter.” (Related video: Watch David Axelrod on Ballot Bowl Saturday.)
Update: The Obama campaign released this statement by Communications Director Robert Gibbs after David Axelrod spoke with CNN.
"We have participated in 21 nationally televised debates, the most in primary history, including four exclusively with Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton refused an earlier invitation that had been accepted to debate in North Carolina. Over the next 10 days, we believe it's important to talk directly to the voters of Indiana and North Carolina about fixing our economy, cutting the cost of health care and ending a war in Iraq that never should have been authorized in the first place."
ANDERSON, Indiana (CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama flat out denied any possibility that he would accept a debate with rival Sen. Hillary Clinton prior to the next big round of primaries.
Shortly after maintaining he isn't "ducking" debates, the Illinois senator admitted the two Democratic rivals are "not going to have debates between now and Indiana."
Voters in both Indiana and North Carolina will head to the polls May 6.
Obama's comments came in an interview with FOX News' Chris Wallace set to air Sunday. Wallace first 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."
Clinton has repeatedly called on Obama to meet for another debate since their last meeting in Philadelphia on April 16.
FT. WAYNE, Indiana (CNN) – Coming off a big win in Pennsylvania thanks largely to working-class voters, Hillary Clinton tried to convince Indiana supporters on Saturday that she is one of them.
Talking about helping her father (a “small businessman,” she emphasized) in his drapery business when she was growing up in Chicago, Clinton told the crowd, “It was one of the many experiences that really taught me the values that I’ve had my entire life. You know, hard work, self-reliance, individual responsibility. Good Midwestern values that we were raised with and that we believe in.”
“I feel so fortunate to have that kind of background and upbringing and I know that’s what many of you have experienced as well here in Ft. Wayne and across Indiana,” she added.
Jabs at George W. Bush are always easy applause lines at Clinton’s rallies and she used his unpopularity to push her populist message on Saturday.
“ We need a president, especially after the last seven years of George Bush who doesn’t just make speeches about American values but understands them, and lives them and believes them and wants to make sure that they are available for everybody.”
When Barack Obama made his infamous “bitter” comments, Clinton was quick to cast him as an out of touch elitist. Now she is locked in a dead heat with Obama in Indiana polls with just over a week before the state’s May 6 contest that many consider a must-win for the New York senator.