Posted by: Lipstick Piggy | October 7, 2008

Inside Scoop | Does Obama Fear Town Hall Debate Format?

Sent: Tue Oct 07 14:07:48 2008
Subject: David Axelrod on camera


on the flight from Asheville to Nashville, David Axelrod came back to discuss tonight’s debate and other issues, such as Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers and taking money from foreigners. Oh, and Obama did not watch his White Sox lose in the playoffs- but he was “dismayed” when he heard.

He didn’t do too much to lower expectations, only saying that this was McCain’s preferred format. They are expecting an aggressive debate where McCain will “take the gloves off.” Obama is prepared for that, but intends to discuss the issues important to the American people. He is prepared to talk about Ayers if it comes up, and Axelrod says Keating is germane to the discussion, but would not speculate on whether or not he’d bring it up. He said it was easy to prep for the debate because Obama’s positions have been consistent. He did talk about how he prepped for the format – town hall, cameras, etc.

On how he’d do in McCain’s format – “we’ll see.”

As for the money issue, Axelrod took a shot at McCain not understanding the Internet and said anyone can get online and buy a t-shirt. they monitor it as best they can and have or will return donations in question. he did not indicate, however, that they would open up their database as it’s “invaluable” to the campaign.

On Ayers, Axelrod said Obama did not know before the meet and greet his background, but did not say that he never knew.

Also, Axelrod said although they are pleased with their current situation in the polls, they don’t really buy polls too much. “This is going to be a very, very pitched battle. We’re fighting over the presidency and the direction of this country and we don’t expect anything less.”

Here is a log – not everything is verbated, but I put stuff that is in quotes.

LOG (not all verbated)

“this is his preferred format. He wanted to do all these debates in a town hall format and we understand that. He’s also signaled to his supporters that he’s going to be very aggressive in this debate, he’s gonna take the gloves off. I hope in the course of that he has time to speak to the state of our economy.”

“we’re gonna talk about the issues that are important to the American people, but we’re prepared for a very aggressive debate.”

On the White Sox losing, “The senator was actually working during the game, but was dismayed to hear the news.”

Prepared to speak abt Ayers – “the senator is gonna be prepared to speak to whatever comes up. If sen mccain or anyone else decides to bring that up.”

“If that comes up, he’ll be ready to discuss that, but one hopes that the focus of this debate will be the issues that touch on the lives of the American people.”

Tone bother him? “he understands where this debate is at.” Says McCain has been explicit in its tone and that they are trying to create a distraction from the economy – the American people are more worried about their jobs than JM or BO winning their jobs.

“we’re  running for potus, it’s a rough, tough persuit and there are lots of challenges associated with it and this is one of them.”

Says Keating is germane to the discussion – reminds reporters they still run positive ads while JSm is running all negative ads. The American people know who’s running a positive campaign and who’s desperately running lefts and rights.

Will Obama bring up Keating? “I don’t think he’ll shy away from a discussion of it if it comes up.” But Obama will discuss the situation in the country today and how we fix the problems.

McCain has “sent his vice presidential candidate out there as kind of tip of the spear in this negative campaign” And the American people are not in the mood for that.

Foreigners donating money – why not open up the database?

“I know that Sen mccain may not know this, but the internet actually – you can get on anywhere in the world – that’s the thing about the Internet and people who want to buy a Tshirt can do that and we monitor these things as best we can. I mean I think that it is unbelievable really that they – that given the times in which we live and the problems that we face – that this is how they’re spending their time as a campaign. It seems like the bigger the challenges we face, the smaller their campaign gets.”

why not open database?

“The issue is whether or not we return these contributions, so I don’t really see an issue. Obviously we’ve got a huge database of contributors that is invaluable to our campaign and we will – we disclose – we’re probably more forthcoming about disclosure than anyone.”

Returned the money?

“I belive any inappropriate contribution is being returned – or has been returned. ”

“Sen. McCain has given back millions of dollars himself in this campaign, so I don’t really know what that proves. ”

Strategy of going to states like NE – “they’re not playing offensive right now – they’re being offensive, but they’re not really playing offense.” Says they have to defend those states – “they have problems in red states.” He said, “I think the bulk of their efforts are right now just trying to shore up the states that they have to maintain in order to keep pace with Bush.”

On Ayers: “the fact is like a lot of people who didn’t live through that era in Chicago, it just wasn’t – I mean when he came to Chicago, Ayers was advising Mayor Daley on school reform issues and that was his profile was that he was an expert on education.”

Before the meet and greet? I was the one who got the ball rolling on this whole thing ‘cause my understanding was when he went there he did not know. So I would say after.

“no one’s suggesting that he never knew.”


“I think it went well. As I’m sure Sen. McCain had rigorous debate prep, Sen. Obama did too. But we’re at the stage of the campaign where the issues are very clear. I think he knows why he’s running for president, his case is very clear. The case for change, he’s comfortable making it. There are nuances and things that arise between debates and so on that you have to be aware of. It’s a different kind of format. You gotta be aware of that so he worked with that a little bit. But, you know, the good thing is that his case has been consistent for 19-20 months. I mean, he’s been fighting this fight for change for a long time, so he doesn’t have to relearn a message – he’s not trying to learn something new here. His fundamentals have been the same for 20 months, and that makes preparing an easier task.”


“In terms of this frontrunner stuff – obviously we like the position that we’re in, but we understand that we have to battle every day. This is going to be a very, very pitched battle. We’re fighting over the presidency and the direction of this country and we don’t expect anything less….we don’t get too intoxicated when the polls are encouraging to us. but there’s no doubt – and I think when senator mccain basically announced that we’re gonna stop talking about the economy and just throwing darts at Obama hoping one  will hit – that you know it’s going to be an active month and we’re prepared for that. It’s not unexpected, this often happens in campaigns and we’re ready to deal with whatever comes. ”


“It’s mostly a physical thing, just getting used to the staging of it all, where the cameras area and all that stuff. I mean, I think it’s pretty routine. ”

On how Obama will do in McCain’s format: “we’ll see.”


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