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It was only in May that Sen. Barack Obama cockily proclaimed he would debate Sen. John McCain "anywhere, anytime." But in June, Obama said no to McCain's challenge to have 10 one-on-one town hall meetings.
After what happened at Lake Forest, Calif.'s evangelical Saddleback megachurch Saturday evening, we may have found that debating is Obama's Achilles' heel. Whether or not you like the idea of such events being held in religious venues, the plain-and-simple method of questioning used by Saddleback pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren revealed fundamental differences between these two men.
"It's one of those situations where the devil is in the details," Obama said at one point. He could have been referring to his own oratorical shortcomings when a teleprompter is unavailable. We learned a lot more about the real Obama at Saddleback than we will next week as he delivers his acceptance speech in Denver before a massive stadium crowd.
Asked to name figures he would rely on for advice, Obama gave the stock answer of family members. McCain pointed to Gen. David Petraeus, Iraq's scourge of the surge; Democratic Rep. John Lewis, who "had his skull fractured" by white racists while protesting for civil rights in the 60s; plus Internet entrepreneur Meg Whitman, the innovative former CEO of eBay.