I'll keep this short and sweet: Obama should refuse to debate Hillary any further, and not just on Fox News, but anywhere. I can see no strategic advantage that he gains from accepting these debates.
For some background, this front-page piece detailed the following from the Politico:
In a conference call with reporters, Clinton strategist Mark Penn announced that Clinton would like to face off against Obama in one debate every week between now and March 4.
"The campaign believes that it’s critically important that we continue the debate," he said, citing the questions of "who offers universal healthcare and who's best prepared to fix the economy."
Debates have, generally, been stronger turf for Clinton, but it's also a mark of the shifting dynamic: You don't usually see the frontrunner demanding debates.
Penn said Clinton would like to see debates in Ohio, Texas, and Washington, and had already accepted three: One on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolous, one CNN debate in Ohio February 27, and an MSNBC debate the next day hosted by Chris Matthews.
Wolfson also said Clinton has accepted a debate on Fox News, something Democrats shunned last year. That debate is scheduled for February 11, in Washington D.C., and would also air on the local Fox affiliate.
Obviously, this tells us two things about the Clinton campaign:
First, that they believe the debates are her strongest point. It's pretty obvious that Obama outdraws her big time when it comes to stumping around the country, and he probably will continue to do so after Super Tuesday. A whole month in which he pulls crowds twice or three times the size of hers is going to be a serious problem for her image.
Second, that their internal numbers aren't good. It has been discussed many times here that the states in Feb. following Super Tuesday have many structural advantages for Obama, and he could easily win the majority of them. By taking the Beltway (VA, MD and DC) he completely wins on one day and a whole news cycle, Hawaii will be a win for him, and he's got a great shot at the others as well.
From watching Giuliani's incredible flameout, it's pretty obvious that the tactic of losing everything small and focusing only on the big states isn't going to work. Politics is all about momentum and if Obama's campaign has all the momentum going into OH and TX, she will lose their as well.
Given this, why the hell should Obama agree to debate?
Let's face it folks, the two of them agree on practically every issue. Watching them debate is like watching a left hand and a right hand decide which is better at opening a jar. Their goals are essentially the same. What sort of contrasts are further debates going to show? What will be revealed to voters that isn't already obvious?
What the Hillary camp is looking for is a way to spin the news cycles in February. That's it. And it's typically not the action of someone who thinks that they are comfortably ahead. Also, I think that they are looking for some fund-raising coming out of the performances, and most importantly hoping for a big slip-up from Obama that can be used against him.
For these reasons I say: no to any further debates! Why play into her hands? Obama could easily state:
The American people know the differences between Sen. Clinton and I, and they aren't differences which focus around issues. We have some differences on those issues, but they pale between our real difference in this campaign: the past versus the future. Americans don't need another debate to understand which candidate represents hope for our country in the next four or eight years.
And he'd be right to do so.
I urge you to call or write the Obama campaign and tell them that you don't need another debate to see the truth!
Cheers to you all