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. Annette, Columbus Ohio

    I think the strategy is a good one. Getting face to face with the people prevents what I see in comments on here all the time....people making decisions based on media "sound bites" and what the "talking heads" opinions are, not basing opinions on actually researching the candidates, reading their speeches or taking the time to read what their policies and ideas are. There are so many candidates on the stage that in these debates we only hear from each candidate for about 5 minutes and they aren't all asked the same question.

    All in all, making a decision based on sound bites, talking heads and a few minutes in a debate seems ludicrous....most of us would spend more time than that and certainly face to face time before we bought a car. Sometimes the media spin is no better than a smooth talking used car salesman.

    August 18, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  2. Vincent, Tamaqua Pa

    this is not surprising. after every debate people are reminded how inexperienced he really is and then he's numbers start to drop.

    im sure the 'debates' are just conventional washington ways to him. hahaha it seems like everytime this guy messes up or does something wrong he uses that excuse.

    August 18, 2007 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  3. Dennis One Love, Los Angeles, CA

    Obama is smart. Good move! I know there are a lot of haters, but looking at the most unexpected trajectory that this guy's political rise has taken, I seriously believe we are witnessing history. This guy is the real deal. Wake up America!

    August 18, 2007 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  4. Renee St.Louis, Mo

    For sll you crazy nonsense people on here trying to dog Obama.I guarantee you he will walk away with victory in 08. The media is trying so hard to twist his arm they are so bias. I thinki it is true leadership to go out and talk to the voters face to face than continuosly keep on debating the same issues 3-4 times a week. I bet that Hillary will jump ship also. Oh let the Washington Establishment rip one another apart. talk to the people Obama.

    August 18, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  5. Dan, TX

    I haven't heard any negative here about Obama that makes sense. There are people who favor other candidates over Obama. Fine. But I haven't seee any thoughtful argument that makes me think the negative comments are coming from thoughtful informed critics.

    August 18, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  6. MM, Denver, CO

    Glad Obama made this call – what a charade those "debates" are. To call them "debates" is ridiculous – there was no debate -it was all about sound bites(e.g. Hillary at the AFLCIO "I am your girl"; Hillary at the LGBT "I am your girl"). The "debate" forums so far work well for a candidate without substance but with the great ability to pump a room with hot air. Obama's thoughtful responses are not a good fit for that circus so why waste his time. So good for Obama for skipping many of them and going to the voters instead. I feel quite confident we are going to see a copy-Hil-cat follow suit just like we saw her parroting Obama's comments on Pakistan. BTW, I know someone said earlier that we shouldn't throw rotten tomatoes at Hillary but I am a Republican(supporting Obama) so I don't count. She is just plain awful.

    August 18, 2007 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |

    Seems smart to skip forums or debates that limit your speaking time. Obama is a highly intelligent man who understands POLITICS, current and history. He is admired by many people, in and out of politics, many people say he is capable of achieving great things. We need to show Washington and the politicians we are serious about our country, if only Ross Perot would of stayed in we could of giving them the boot in the *** then! I support Obama, we could do no more harm than Bush has done, don't be afraid people!!

    August 18, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |

    i think the time has come for the u.s to prove to the rest of the world that they have come of age as regards color or race of an individual so please i want all americans to surpport barack obama because the rest of the world are watching..........

    August 18, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  9. Lance, Monrovia, CA.

    However, what do you mean "as in the polls, Hillary's people seem to have the upper hand?"

    I've been sitting at the Obama table on and off for three weeks at the Monrovia street fair, and we've outpaced the one guy at Hillary's table many times over. Sometimes people will go first to Hillary's then to Obama's table to check out the info or buy a bumper sticker, as they're still sussing out the candidates, but by far people are more curious about Obama than Hillary.

    Why is it that people just don't seem as curious or passionate about Hillary and yet the media constantly tries to crown her as the winning candidate by default, like it's her birth right? Who are these people they're polling anyway? I haven't met them.

    I've been trying and trying to think and articulate why I and so many others like Sen. Obama so much and what my major problem with Hillary Clinton is... I've really struggled with this, as I think she'd be an okay president, far better than Bush anyway.

    But over the course of my time hanging out at that Obama table at the street fair, its hit me. Now I know why I don't like her nearly as much as Obama or even Edwards.

    The reason is...exactly what I said. I think she'd be competent, she'd be okay. We'd skate through the next 8 years without attacking anyone blatantly and there'd be some incremental good done. But...THAT'S NOT WHAT WE NEED!!!

    Our next president must be a visionary. We need a leader in the truest sense of the word. It is not the time to be cautious or meek or reactionary about our next President.

    Instead of reversing 8 years of damage, I think Hillary Clinton would be too tempted to keep the status quo, keeping things like the patriot act and the overall "war on terror" humming along nicely if it made things as easy politically as it has for Bush.

    We don't need another family dynasty playing the same political games our country has suffered from for seven years. That wouldn't serve the country well. We need somebody to come in with an almighty bulldozer and overhaul the system.

    Our literal survival is as stake in this next election. We are facing ice caps that are melting, healthcare that's a joke, a world that shows us no compassion and a lot of hate, corporations and foreign interests out of control in large part due to our own acts or lack thereof. We have a culture of greed and instant gratification driven only by profit even at the expense of our kids.

    I don't honestly believe that Hillary Clinton has the sheer vision and courage to make the kind of major changes that need to happen. I see it on the faces I see week after week, in the conversations around "the water cooler" and on the internet boards.

    She doesn't inspire action.

    Even if she logically sees what needs to be done, even if she can talk about it, she can't inspire others to pull it off. I don't believe she'll unite the Congress much less the States. She is not taking on the right, she will drive them to act because despite good intentions that is what she does.

    I don't believe she'll overcome her lobbyist buddies to give us all equal and fair healthcare... she couldn't do it before, why now?

    I DO believe that Barrack Obama could do those things, especially Obama. I sense a kind of fire in the air around him.

    People are exited, motivation is coming from areas inside people they didn't know they had, people that have never engaged in politics, ever, including myself.

    He is almost singlehandedly creating an environment that makes voters feel inspired enough to throw down against the system, to finally, gloriously get involved with a broken system and fix it once and for all.

    Frankly, Hilary is old school politics and corporate interest in a pink suit. Where others have spoken out loudly against corruption, cronyism and the loss of our rights in the last seven years, she has gotten by, said just enough and no more, and I say that's not enough.

    I want to be inspired, I want to be told that Americans can sacrifice with the best, take our knocks and handle the truth. I want the world to know Americans are reasonable and well reasoned people with heart and toughness to spare.

    Frankly, Hillary feels like my babysitter instead of my president.

    Obama understands the vibe of the 21st century where Hillary is still living in the 90's. She cannot help but be a product of her husband's times, as divisive as they were. I'm so weary of that...

    I cried when I heard Obama speak during Kerry's convention, because he was so right, there are no blue or red states, we're all The UNITED STATES.

    I don't want the country I love to be known as an imperial empire, a dictatorial regime bringing democracy on the backs of missles and bullets.

    I don't need another president that will rationalize and divide with statements like, "if you want to take on the right, I'm your girl." or "I'll get us out of Iraq...unless Al Qaeda is still there."

    I'm sick of half speak. Listen close and you'll see Obama isn't doing that.

    I want the world to know the good people I know, the honesty I know. I want the sort of knowledge, class and courage that the best politicians in history have given this country. It's time for another Abe Lincoln, another JFK, because only a leader of that caliber can harness the belief currently lying dormant in this country can pull us safely into the future.

    I never, ever want to be known as the generation that lost our freedoms to fear and lost our world to neglect and greed.

    The worst thing that can happen to the next presidential election is that it’s close. If it’s close, the RNC can use caging, intimidation and voter apathy to steal it yet again. If it’s Hillary, it’s gonna be close, and I'll do what I can to help her too, but I feel it'll be politics as usual, and I'll be scared... as usual.

    I do, however, believe that Barrack Obama can inspire what needs to be done. He can not only inspire it, he can pull it off. He can bring a million people to the polls that have never even bothered to vote before.

    The Clintons had their chance, lets not live in the past, lets figure out what will make the future.

    Obama in '08.

    You can start by showing up at Library Park's cardshack tomorrow Sunday August 19, 3pm, in Monrovia, and also by reading Audacity of Hope in your spare time.

    The more you learn, the more you listen, the more you'll see.

    August 18, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  10. AmericanWoman

    Noticing that someone sounds more and more inexperienced the more he talks, even to the point of starting an international incident with Pakistan, is not being mean or bitter. It's being conscious and honest. We're voting for President of the United States, here, and some of you people are acting like it's nothing but a Survivor or American Idol show on tv. He's charismatic, he's bright, that is not a good enough reason to vote for someone in that office. He was only a state senator a few years ago, he's just starting out.

    August 18, 2007 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  11. Lance, Monrovia, CA.

    Excuse me, uh... American Woman, can I speak to you for a moment in the corner... uh... guess what?

    Bush, Clinton, et al HAVE ALL SAID THE SAME THING ABOUT PAKISTAN. Bush has said he'd go into Pakistan if he had "actionable intelligence" so many times it's been drilled into our heads. Clinton has said the same thing Barrack said as well.

    You're being played American Woman, plain and simply played. They're trying to use the same political swift boating they used on Kerry.

    The difference, is that Obama refuses to be painted into a corner and actually used the fact that every other candidate backed off going into Pakistan to make himself look like the only strong candidate, the only one that would not cow-tow to foreign interests if American security was at stake.

    August 18, 2007 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  12. Steve - Peoria, IL

    Barack Obama is a nice guy. He means well. But a nice, well-intentioned person does not a President make.

    Islamic terrorists want a nice guy in the White House, and I do not mean to instill fear. Im just being a realist.

    August 18, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  13. Dennis One Love, Los Angeles, CA

    Hey Lance from Monrovia, CA – what a lucid discussion, really astounding and brilliant! I can truly sense the obama passion in your writing! You are an example of what this guy can, will keep doing, and what will indeed take him right into the whitehouse. That day which is surely coming, America will never be the same again!!

    August 18, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  14. Ron Nebraska

    Lance, I really don't know what else needs said. You laid it out beautifully,.....very well done!!!!!

    August 18, 2007 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  15. Andre, Brooklyn NY

    Obama you just lost my vote.

    August 19, 2007 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  16. Mike Dallas, TX

    American woman,

    Hillary was a first lady "a few years ago" too and claims she has "experience". So what's your point?

    August 19, 2007 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  17. Chima, York PA

    This is another example of either lazy reporting or just plain dishonesty. Obama is not refusing to attend the debates, he is calling for a pause on scheduling any NEW debates until late December. He still has 8 more debates between now and late December, which comes to 2 debates per month. He wants to focus a little more time talking to and taking questions from voters.

    This sort of dishonest headline is the problem with the media. This is almost as bad as the media falsely reporting that Obama said he would "invade" or "attack" or "bomb" Pakistan...I mean...c'mon people! Did any of you actually even READ the article? Obama is honoring the remaining 8 debates but is saying hold off on scheduling NEW debates.
    In typical fashion, this has been distorted by the headline "Obama:Enough with the Debates", which is NOT what Obama said.

    Lastly, some people have made the point that Obama made "foreign policy gaffes". Well...if that's the case, then why did CNN bury the video of Hillary Clinton saying the exact same thing about striking at Al Qaeda targets within Pakistan? Candi Crowley asked her what she would do if we knew where Bin Laden was inside Pakistan and she said the same thing Obama said. Then the next day her campaign started attacking Obama. Also, just today, John Edwards said if elected, his first act as president would be to meet directly with Iran's president.(check it out on the NYT website). Will Hillary call Edwards "naive" tomorrow? Somehow I doubt it.
    Last week it was finally reported that in 2006, Hillary said nukes would be off the table in terms of Iran, yet she attacked Obama for saying nukes were off the table.

    So explain to me how Obama "made mistakes", but Hillary did not when she said the same things?
    Never mind, I know you Hillary supporters will NOT address these examples.

    You people are sheep indeed.

    August 19, 2007 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  18. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    Nothing generates comments on the political ticker like ANYTHING to do with Barak Obama.

    The Barak Obama truth/spin squad is so virulent in their attacks on Hillary Clinton (even though this article was supposedly about Obama) that I truly wonder where their support will be on election day in November of 2008.

    Their tactics are so Republican that I would hate to think they are all or nothing "Barak or nobody". They need to snap out of this personality cult and realize the country cannot take another four years of a Republican president.

    I am voting Democratic in November of 2008. I have already made my mind up about that. I hope it is Hillary Clinton, but if it is Barak Obama, or John Edwards, or Bill Richardson then so be it.

    August 19, 2007 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  19. Aidyn, NY, NY

    I am a Hillary supporter but I am not here to speak bad;ly of Obama. I just feel that if he does not attend the debates he might be forgotten.

    August 19, 2007 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  20. tp, nyc

    Obama hs been accused of being a lightweight...this confirms it. The debates are a joke, because each candidate has less than a minute to explain a very important issue. Therefore, when there are more debate opportunities, it is GOOD for voters...not bad, as his statement implies. He is simply not up to the task at hand, and I shudder to think what he would be like as a general election nominee.

    August 19, 2007 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  21. Keith, Chicago, IL

    Can we please agree that Obama does not know the issues; he needs time for schooling? Will the campaign make video available of all these questions he'll be taking from the campaign trail? Will the media report that, in fact, he takes very few questions?

    August 19, 2007 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  22. franklin

    Really good.
    all the time hillary has been declared the winner after the debates over and over Ithink it was getting too much. she ten calls apresidential candidateirresponsible and naive then she cries foul when he responds.

    August 19, 2007 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  23. Kim, Sacramento, CA

    Obama is a confident, intelligent and fair human being. He is the candidate the most represents what the average person has gone through, the one who has lived life the way that the majority that we have lived it and he relates very, very well with people – especially in one on one situations. He is not saying he will not debate, he is just limiting it because he has a lot of people to meet – to get his message to in as close to a one-on-one format as he can. This is what is important. The "debates" so far have been a joke in format and content, they have not been fair in any way, shape or form. You have eight candidates taking questions over a one and a half hour period – how can that possibly be a fair forum. Barack isn't backing away from the debates because of things he has said – he is making a decision to deliver his message his way which is one-on-one as it should be. This makes me trust and respect the man for continuing to take his message to the people through the people.

    August 19, 2007 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  24. Claude, Mesa AZ

    To American Woman....Get Real!!!

    August 19, 2007 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  25. Kevin NH

    AmericanWoman and all the republintons here needs to stop drinking the cool aid from the MSM. Take your time to read the full text of Obama speeches before you open your ignorant mouths. American would be so much better if some people were disqualified from voting.

    August 19, 2007 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
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