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Barack Obama deftly handles his much-anticipated "Fox News Sunday" interview

April 27, 2008 |  8:16 am

Barack Obama is off the clock with "Fox News Sunday," and -- 772 days after he first promised moderator Chris Wallace that he would chat on camera with him -- the result was a generally easygoing conversation notable mainly for the ability of the Democratic presidential candidate to avoid being pinned down.

Obama did give one direct answer, which Fox spotlighted on Saturday, saying that despite renewed requests from Hillary Clinton and her surrogates, he won't be sharing a stage with her for another debate before the May 6 primaries in North Carolina and Indiana. Instead, Obama said he wanted to concentrate on meeting voters in those states.

On several other topics, Obama artfully steered clear of specific answers to questions from Wallace.

He dodged saying whether he tried to personally discourage the Rev. Jeremiah Wright -- whom he pointedly referred to as his "former" pastor -- from embarking on his current round of public appearances that culminates Monday with a sold-out address at the National Press Club in Washington on Monday.

While reiterating that he was not sitting in a pew when Wright uttered the inflammatory lines that caused the political headache for Obama in March when they gained wide circulation via YouTube, he was vague about the nature of other provocative comments he has said he heard the preacher utter from the pulpit.

Asked about President Bush's recent decision to name Gen. David Petraeus ...

commander of U.S. Central Command, Obama said that as a senator he would vote to confirm that appointment. He praised Petraeus for "doing a good tactical job" as head of U.S. forces in Iraq.

But Obama declined to say whether, as president, he would replace Petraeus from the Central Command post if the general told him his plan to extract troops from Iraq was a mistake.

Finally, Obama skirted any commitment to rely on public financing in the general election campaign if he emerged as his party's presidential nominee.

All in all, a mistake-free performance by a candidate who appeared better rested -- and in a better mood -- than he often has in recent weeks.

The interview's very last question yielded a couple of responses worthy of note.

Asked what he had learned about himself so far during the grueling campaign, Obama said, "I have the right temperament to be president."

By that, he continued, he meant that (like a good baseball player), he doesn't get too high when things are going well or too low when they are not.

He also nicely worked in a reference to his two young daughters, saying that long separations from his family at times took a toll. There are moments on the campaign trail, he said, when "you need those two little girls in your arms."

To read the entire interview, go here.

-- Don Frederick

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