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Barack Obama reveals an inside debate story

January 18, 2008 |  7:14 am

The important Nevada caucuses are Saturday, so many of the presidential candidates are working the crowds wherever they can find them and putting in long days -- and evenings.

And so is The Times' Seema Mehta.

Last night, she reports, Barack Obama was speaking in a large common room at Rancho High School in Las Vegas. The place was so packed with hundreds of people that they ran out of chairs. Many had to stand. Obama was going through his standard stump speech when he slipped in a humorous little confession about his recent MSNBC debate performance against Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

"I was laughing when we had the debate a couple days ago," Obama said. "You remember: People were asked, 'What's your biggest weakness?' So I thought, because I'm like an ordinary person, I thought that they meant what's your biggest weakness?

"So I said: 'Well, you know, I don't handle papers that well. My desk is a mess. I need somebody to help me file stuff all the time.' So the other two, they say, 'My biggest weakness is I'm just too passionate about helping poor people.' 'I am just too impatient to bring about change in America.'

"If I had gone last, I would have known what the game was. I could have said: 'Well, you know I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don't want to be helped. It's terrible.' Folks, they don't tell you what they mean."

That comes with experience, no doubt.

-- Andrew Malcolm