August 19th, 2007
08:16 AM ET
15 years ago

Obama to limit future debate appearances

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

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Race to '08
soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. Claude, Mesa AZ

    I think this is great. You have to prioritize or else you won't get anything done. The way the media spins things Hillary will win the debates anyway, but I have news for you, especially the media. The general masses of folks could care less about who wins a debate. The general masses are hungry for change, NOW! Winning a debate and making false promises is more of the same.

    August 18, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  2. pl, at the UN, for a while.

    I am not American. So I cannot vote. I do not express my opinions.

    I have noticed, reviewing your comments, a peculiar trend. Comments directed to Mr. Obama's are definetly sympathetic. Those directed to Ms Rodham-Clinton are mixed, but, in number, always quadruple or quintuple Mr Obama's.

    August 18, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  3. Henery Kissenger District of Criminals

    Ron Paul Also Wins Big in New Hampshire

    Ron Paul won big earlier today in Alabama. He also won big in New Hampshire this afternoon.

    Dr. Paul received 208 votes (73%) for a landslide victory against Mitt Romney today at the Strattford County, New Hampshire straw poll. Romney received 26 votes. Mike Huckabee came in third with 20 votes.

    Tancredo (8 votes), McCain (7 votes), Cox (5 votes), Hunter (5 votes), Thompson (5 votes), Giuliani (3 votes) and Brownback (1 vote) finished the field.

    As noted earlier, Ron Paul received 216 votes for a commanding first-place finish in a straw poll today sponsored by the West Alabama Republican Assembly. Mitt Romney came in second with 14 votes.

    The poll was open to Alabama residents.

    August 18, 2007 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  4. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    I am not surprised by Obama's decision. Obama made two huge mistakes for the Foreign Policy, also Anti-Hillary video, memo about Hillary and attacked another candidate from same party. He lied or denied to us, he didn't realize his big mistakes for a month, now he knew what he did wrong, so shut his mouth and escape from all of attacks about his inexperiences. Now he is trying to be careful about his speech I think but it is too late, everybody heard and talked about it. You can't make yourself great, your experience and career will. Obama needs at least 10 more years hard work at IL Senator and then may be...

    August 18, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  5. Joe Ossai, Bedford, NH

    It appears Hilary supporters and Republicans on this board have problem with comprehension. He said he will attend 5 DNC and 2 Iowa debates between now and December. Come on your idiots READ AND COMPREHEND

    August 18, 2007 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  6. D. Johnson, Portland, OR

    Good idea! That way he won't have to spend so much time pulling his feet out of his mouth.

    August 18, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  7. Ian, Las Vegas

    This is counter-productive to me. When you're in a debate that appears on televisions nationwide, I think your chance for success in the polls will increase slightly IN EVERY STATE(including the important ones), as long as you perform well. That, and what better way is there of knowing which candidates are more distinctive than the other? You put them on a stage and have them debate each other.

    And yes, declaring Hillary Clinton the winner debate after debate is a little retarded, unprofessional, and unfair on the media's part. A lot of people are too lazy to actually watch the debates and will just check with the news to see who won, hence an unfair advantage to the candidate that has the most media outlets singing their* praises.

    I mean, if more people actually WATCHED the debates, they'd notice that even the low-tier candidates have their fiery moments(Kucinich at the labor debate, Biden has had many times outshining the others even in the CNN ones, etc) that can win some people over.

    In a nutshell : Give all candidates fair credit/coverage, and not in ascending to descending based on what their spot is in opinion polls.


    August 18, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  8. Joliene

    "All I said is to point your anger at the people that really deserve it…The republicans."
    ~Evan Esteves

    This is concerning. I am all for political lines (it was how the founders wanted it) but there is a limit. This comment shows neither knowledge of the issues or concern for the overall health of the country. To group people together like that is naive. If your problem is the Bush administration say that. If your problem is against the republican base perhaps debate and conversation would be more beneficial to learn respect for others opinions. However, you seem to be shouting down what a large percentage of people in this country believe because they are titled "republican" and that you think that this title deserves anger is not only foolish but is also close minded.

    August 18, 2007 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. Andy J, Upstate NY

    Personally, i think that 99 % of the people posting messages in here are ridiculous. Many of you play into the hand of the media, who give you a portion of the story and spin it to benefit specific people. I doubt many of you read beyond CNN's website, and if you think that makes you an informed voter, you are sadly mistaken.

    And Obama has a degree from Columbia in Poli-Sci with a focus in international relations... so what qualifies anyone in this blog to classify him as inexperienced in foreign policy? Clinton's experience led her to vote for the Iraq resolution and AGAINST the Levin resolution.... She's a phony.

    August 18, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  10. Bob, Cheverly, MD

    The Debate in Iowa had the focus group, which the powers that be put together to vote on who won that debate. At the conclusion they voted Barack Obama won the debate. The NEWS Media then spun it and said Hillary won. They buried the story that the focus group picked Obama. Had the focus group picked Hillary the powers that be would have shown each focus group members face FOREVER on the news touting that Hillary won. Good move Obama. You see that winning the peoples votes. As in the focus groups example is what counts. The media is playing a “they want Hillary to win game”. LET THEM PLAY BY THEMSELVES. You win were it counts THE PEOPLES VOTES !!

    August 18, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  11. Marsha, Portland, OR

    Sounds to me like they are afraid like he'll hurt himself by opening his mouth and saying something that will hurt his image that has been created by the media and Obamamites. Smart strategy? I don't think so. The more Clinton is seen in the media and debates, the more people like her:

    "The latest poll from Quinnipiac University shows that Hillary Clinton is leading Rudy Giuliani. This is the first time that she has been in the lead. It is a small, margin of 46-43% but the poll also shows that she has increased her favorability rating."

    "Clinton leads Senator John McCain by 47-41% and former Senator Fred Thompson by 49-38%. Senator Barack Obama is in a tie with Giuliani at 42%, leads McCain by a margin of 43 – 39% and Thompson by 46-35%."

    Clinton is CLEARLY the candidate that can beat the Republicans.

    August 18, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  12. JD, Syracuse, NY

    I can see the reasons Obama limiting his future debate attendance because (a) he made critical mistakes in front of the national viewers; (b) the polls on the debate candidates peformacne did not give him a good score; (c) he lost his ranking in the immediate democratic polls after the debates.

    He does not want future debates to further deteriorate his donations and "fresh and new" image, which some people adore (as towards a baby).

    By the way, are we choosing a president or adopting a baby?

    August 18, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  13. Uma, mpls, MN

    I was a Obama fan on the beginning; more the i knew about him and more i hear from him i started to question about his ability. He and his campaign spend a lot of time attacking Hillary than telling people about his policy.

    I totally agree that if he doesn't participate debate he will be big looser and if he participates too he is always looser anyway.
    My vote to Hillary!

    August 18, 2007 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    This step away from so-called debates will limit the audience for 'Bama's foreign policy gaffes, and cede the lead to What's-her-name. OK by me, so her electable detractors can tear her a new credibility gap.

    August 18, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  15. Christian, Palmetto FL

    I can understand this decision.
    Some of these forums really don't reach the broader American people like the CNN/YouTube debates and others; it makes sense to stick to the DNC debates and a smaller variety of others.
    The grassroots does need to stay a priority for every campaign.

    Why the Obama hate among some people recently? Honestly, why do people practically think he's stupid or naive? He surely isn't, even though he has less experience than some of the others.

    People should stop being so bitter toward him, Hillary, and the candidates from both parties. We have to get along with one of these people as President within a year and a half.

    August 18, 2007 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  16. Leigh, PA

    Obama doesn't do it for me...he's unsure of himself. I feel he's just not ready. He's overrated in my mind.

    He protects himself by limiting his debates, but when the field is smaller he has to step up and I think he'll have a tough time.

    I support Ron Paul.

    August 18, 2007 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  17. Shawn, Atlanta, Georgia

    You have to wonder if Senator Obama has campaign people who sit around and just post comments on CNN. Most of the comments are postive to Sen. Obama and appear to be in the same voice. They should simply come up with a better strategy; like supporting a more experienced candidate.

    August 18, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  18. Jenny, Gainesville, FL

    I am surprised by the degree of ignorance shown by many comments in this blog. Please read, think, and then comment. The Obama compaign will participate in several major debates (at least one per month) and a few forums in the next four or five months. That is already a lot! Anything beyond that would be too much. I think the campaign is showing leadership by limiting the debates and forums. The more interesting and important interaction should be listening to the people and directly addressing their concerns rather than competing for forgetable sound bites. The media and some other campaigns are very good at twisting words and distorting sentences to generate "fabricated controversies." After following the presidential campaigns for a few months, I have realized that not only is politics dirty, but also is the media (or run by people who actually do not read and think but only write to attract eyeballs). That is sad!

    August 18, 2007 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  19. Evan Esteves, Boca Raton, FL

    This is concerning. I am all for political lines (it was how the founders wanted it) but there is a limit. This comment shows neither knowledge of the issues or concern for the overall health of the country. To group people together like that is naive. If your problem is the Bush administration say that. If your problem is against the republican base perhaps debate and conversation would be more beneficial to learn respect for others opinions. However, you seem to be shouting down what a large percentage of people in this country believe because they are titled "republican" and that you think that this title deserves anger is not only foolish but is also close minded.

    Let's face it Joliene..."republicans" are responsible for forcing this country through one of the worst terms of any President that has presided over this country (Bush 04-08) by electing him for said term. I think you all have earned the anger of the "rest" of us.

    August 18, 2007 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  20. Dan, Tx

    It amuses me that people are pointing out that Hillary Clinton is beating Giuliani 46-43%. People are so disgusted with the Republicans that Hillary or any democrat should beat any Republican by a very wide margin. Those polls can't be right. How can she not have a huge lead?

    August 18, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  21. quiet man - los gatos, ca

    I feel sorry for Bumbler Obama. When he blurted out that he'd like to invade our ally, he pretty much assured his defeat.

    August 18, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. shaw - tulsa OK

    Where are all the people who dissed Gov Romney for not "accepting the invitation" for the youtube debate?

    Now that Barack is not "accpeting the invitations" to debate, will you diss him, too?

    August 18, 2007 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  23. A.Markle, Lancaster, PA

    I am encouraged by the continuing openness of Barack Obama, and so happy to see his wife also on the podium yesterday. I also like the approach planned with the campaign. I am convinced it will be the individual voters who will elect Barack Obama. All the best. Audrey Markle

    August 18, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  24. Gina, Chicago IL

    This is a shameful tactic. He realizes that this is the only way to avoid another screw up so he better hide. What a coward. He has so many strike outs and this confirms his being a naive nincompoop.

    August 18, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  25. Mr. J; Salt Lake City, Utah

    Why am I not surprised? Oh, because his debate appearances thus far have been disasterous! I was excited when Obama entered the race. I had high hopes for him. But after seeing him in numerous debates, I must say that I am unfortunately disappointed. Given his performances, this was only a matter of time. The truth is, he just doesn't have the experience (fact) or the policy knowledge (my opinion) to hold his own and we've unfortunately seen it time and time again.

    I do think that the response he is getting (from Hillary's camp and others) is legitimate. "So he'll meet with dictators but not the black caucus or seniors in Iowa?" Hard questions like these are ones that Presidents and Presidential Candidates face everyday–and so they should!

    August 18, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
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