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A "rocky" reference by Obama

October 31, 2007 |  2:32 pm

The quip fell flat anyway.  But if Barack Obama and his brain trust had thoroughly thought through the subliminal message sent by the jest with which he opened Tuesday night's debate among the Democratic presidential candidates, we think they might have junked it.

Given that Obama had telegraphed that he planned to sharpen his criticism of Hillary Clinton, the entire political universe knew the debate would start with an invitation for him to take his best shot. Obama, however, decided to lower the temperature of the anticipated face-off.  And, in light of the debate's Philadelphia setting, he sought to do that by referencing the film famously linked to the city.

"Well, first of all, I think some of this stuff gets overhyped," Obama said.  "In fact, I think this has been the most hyped fight since Rocky fought Apollo Creed, although the amazing thing is I'm Rocky in this situation" (i.e. -- isn't it odd that I'm playing the white guy?).

He got a smattering of laughs.  But here's what struck us -- Rocky lost his first fight with Apollo Creed. Indeed, as they clinched in the climatic scene, Creed growled in Rocky's ear, "Ain't gonna be no rematch."  And the gallant, albeit defeated, challenger replied, "Don't want one."

Maybe Obama had in mind "Rocky II," in which Sylvester Stallone's character triumphs over Creed.  Still, why confuse us (easy as it is to do)?

-- Don Frederick

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