April 26th, 2008
05:24 PM ET
15 years ago

Clinton challenges Obama to Lincoln-Douglas style debate


Watch Sen. Clinton explain her proposal to debate Sen. Obama one-on-one without a moderator.

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."


soundoff (376 Responses)
  1. ronald bernard

    what next hilley STREET FIGHTING? i would think the american people will demand more from there comander and cheaf sorry your not the person you make yourself out to be you not only lost my vote but my respect for you as and you call yourself a woman.. you and bill should play in your politic wode of money you have compiled from the tax payers and go just go

    April 26, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  2. Todd

    What is this high school, peer pressure on Obama. This is a joke! No one wants to hear that screeching noise.

    I rather watch the play off.

    April 26, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |

    Hillary Clinton get your behind somewhere and sit it DOWN11 Of course you want more debates you're the underdog you need more debates and everything else to discredit Obama, But it ain't gonna work we are on to you in more ways than one.

    April 26, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. sjp

    i want, i want, iwant!! amazingly she and her campaign just don't get the fact that by running all that negative crap, they ruined any chance at getting what they want. what was the name of that spoiled little brat of a girl in willy wonka's chocolate factory? it wasn't hillary was it?

    April 26, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. Mike Ellison

    Clinton promised 200,000 jobs for New York and lost 80,000. She blamed Bush. If New York would have gotten 200,000 she wouldnt have givven Bush the credit. If she couldnt do it for New York why should I believe her now?
    Mike Ellison
    Shell Knob MO

    April 26, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  6. Ace-Canada

    Hi CNN, please tell me the conditions to satisfy for my posts to be published that way I can decide if I should participate or not..

    April 26, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  7. Freedwoman

    Obama can wear his white shirt at every speech–the sign of cowardice and surrender.

    We need a president. not a wuss!

    April 26, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  8. Bitter Tommy in St. Louis

    Hillary overestimates her own importance as a candidate in this race. She can't win. At least Lincoln and Douglas had a chance against one another.

    April 26, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  9. mitch from ark.

    she's so ridiculous.she is only doing this ,because she knows she has lost.do not give her the opportunity,to destroy the party anymore,with her lies and kitchen sinks.i guess some people will do anything for power.

    April 26, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  10. Freedwoman

    Actually, I'm not thru yet!

    Obama can play Basketball: "hoops" whatever.

    We need someone who can sit in the Oval office and make the hard decisions.

    I guess what he's really good at is playing games! the rest of us need to play grown-up.

    We need an adult in the White House, not a street punk!

    April 26, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  11. Danielle

    Looks like Obama can't risk a debate because it means public speaking without his speechwriters to prop him up.

    April 26, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  12. Bill

    Obama wil run from this debate, he knows he doesn't have a grasp of the issues like Hillary and he would look like what he is, the purveyor of non-specific rhetorical gobbedly-gook.

    April 26, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  13. mac

    Sounds like Obama is hesitant to debate again.......why is that???? Clinton will win the nomination, no contest.

    April 26, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  14. John

    She's such a loser.

    April 26, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  15. bakersfield

    your talking 90 moinutes your in the same state. scared of a woman

    April 26, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  16. jl

    NO WAY!!!


    NO WAY!!!!

    April 26, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  17. Danielle

    Response to eli:

    I saw the PBS interview. It doesn't make Wright look any better.

    April 26, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. Grif

    A Travelling Saleswoman, with a Dam Good Product.. Go Girl.

    April 26, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  19. push back

    African American leaders and pundits are very vocal for representing a mere 12% of the Country.

    They have intimidated the DNC into giving the nomination to Obama by threatening the wrath of Black people.

    Well who wants THAT kind of democracy? A reign of race-card playing and calling people racists if they disagree and think the other person is the BETTER candidate.

    An Obama presidency will be haunted by the constant play of racial tensions. Disagree and you are a racist. When we disagreed with Bush, we were unpatriotic. Now we will simply swap the intimidating label.

    April 26, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  20. For What?

    Another debate? Hillary c'mon?...Both you and Obama can recite each others lines. Other than that, is it to show "personal" differences on personalities? I don't think I care. Please go to voters and talk about the issues and then let's vote, already. I'm sick and tired of those debates...I have not heard anything new of substace with the all the last ones. enough with it...move on.

    April 26, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  21. Debra in Louisiana

    Sure Clinton wants to debate, she's very good at lying to the camera. Wonder where she learned that from

    April 26, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  22. Leah DiMarco, Texas

    What is the matter with YOU Hillary?

    Senator Obama did agree to a debate in North Carolina that was supposed to take place tomorrow and YOU are the one that said NO.

    I truly think that Hillary and Bill are off their rockers and need to seek professional help!

    Obama / Kathleen Sebelius '08/'12

    April 26, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  23. For Obama


    April 26, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  24. LNAB

    obama will never do it... she'd mop the floor with him!


    April 26, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  25. michael g

    Too bad Obama decided to stay out of the kitchen.

    April 26, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
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