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

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

Comments () | Archives (67)

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Don Frederick's summary is extremely dishonest.

"He dodged saying whether he tried to personally discourage the Rev. Jeremiah Wright [...] from embarking on his current round of public appearances [...]"

He made it clear that he did NOT try to discourage him. He said that he felt sorry the Wright got dragged into the national spotlight just because Obama is running for president, and that the guy had a right to defend himself.

I suggest people read the interview themselves instead of going by this obviously biased summary.

One thing shows up more and more clearly every day: the Democrats who leave post-article comments in the newspapers are not interested in having their minds changed. They are not interested in complex thinking. They want sound bites and spin. They don't want to reason, only to react. And THAT'S what's going to hand the presidency over to John McCain in November. I say this realizing I'm shouting into the wind: VOTE DEMOCRATIC NO MATTER *WHO* WINS THE NOMINATION. Those who say they'll vote for McCain (or whon't vote at all) if they don't get their favorite Democrat are pathetic and disgusting. They are doing free work for the Republican Party.

An Unjust War Started by the Bush Administration, After Bush's Church told him the war was 'without any justification according to the teachings of Christ'.

Rev Wright's partial sermon on Bill Moyer explains the point of the sermon was do not take revenge for 9/11 by killing innocent people - the babies Psalm 137. Rev Wright did not preach hate. He was preaching the opposite, "Violence begs violence. Hate begets hate. Terrorism begets terrorism."

"Americans chickens are coming home to roost. We took this country by terror from Arapaho, Navajo to build our way of east. We bombed Granada and killed innocent babies. Killed in Panama. Bombed Kadafi, killed unarmed civilians in Iraq. We bombed Nagasaki, Hiroshima. We never batted an eye. And now we are indigent. It's brought back to our own front yards. Violence begs violence. Hate begets hate. Terrorism begets terrorism."

The Americans chickens are coming home to roost was a quote from a white person, but a quote that was meaningful to many black people. Rev Wrights point, the American government has made wrong decisions, but God is always right. In the part of the sermon not shown on Bill Moyer's Interview, Wright said American has had good governments, Truman desegregated the military, "We had a friend in Bill Clinton", Gore had the Presidency stolen.

The Bush Administration made wrong decisions that McCain wants to continue.

500,000 innocent Iraq civilians
over 4,000 US soldiers - more than the people killed during 9/11
29,320 US soldiers had been wounded and
31,325 others treated for non-combat injuries and illness as of March 1, 2008.

144 US veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide from 2001 to the end of 2005, and thousands face potential mental health problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.

October 20, 2002

President George Bush's own Methodist church launched a scathing attack on his preparations for war against Iraq, saying they are 'without any justification according to the teachings of Christ'.

The Methodist Church, he says, is not pacifist, but 'rejects war as a usual means of national policy'. Methodist scriptural doctrine, he added, specifies 'war as a last resort, primarily a defensive thing. And so far as I know, Saddam Hussein has not mobilized military forces along the borders of the United States, nor along his own border to invade a neighboring country, nor have any of these countries pleaded for our assistance, not does he have weapons of mass destruction targeted at the United States'.

Hillary Clinton, as with the Bosnia sniper fire delusion, suffers from a fantasy that she is the front-runner, and with her forever shifting goalposts, her new fuzzy math and kitchen-sink-sewer, failed and bankrupt campaign, wants Obama to give her FREE AIR TIME to debate her for the TWENTY-SECOND time. I am a feminist older than Mrs. Clinton and as an American patriot, I need to do the right thing and tell Mrs. Clinton and sex-addicted impeached Bill, shut up already! The Clinton dynasty has been spoiling not just Obama's race in November but also the entire Democratic Party and its representatives'--congressmen, governors, district officers, mayors, etc, etc--ability to win in future elections. Bill is fighting Obama to return to the WH for a third term, and Obama has been fighting not just two Clintons (both playing every dirty card in politics) but also the GOP and the mainstream media who want to see the contest continue and their high ratings maintained. To claim Senator Obama is not electable because he is black is to say that only white Americans, like Bill and Hillary, can become President, as they have for over 200 years. No Native, Hispanic, or Asian American need apply as well. Is this what we want for our republic? Senator Obama MUST denounce and reject Hillary's shameless agenda, to gain free public airtime off his back. He MUST stop treating Hillary as an older white woman like his mother and therefore to be respected, and show her for the corrupt (25 million dollars gained from influence peddling last year alone), lying (Bosnia sniper fire), bullying (Judas name-calling), ruthless (just look at her ads), unelectable (highest negatives ever in a presidential candidate, and negatives increasing every day) small human that she is. He MUST begin to draw the contrasts in campaign tone, character, and track record on community work and protection of our constitution that show Hillary as the base fear-mongering, saber-rattling candidate that she is.

Mr. Fredericks was very misleading in the way he titled this peice. People should read the interview and judge for themselves. He answered a lot more than 1 thing directly. I am frankly fed up with he media and even print journalism that can't seem to get the most simple facts straight and give an honest critique. I also believe they (the media) have much to gain in keeping this going as long as possible. It would be nice to see some honest reporting for a change!

Robert said: " Senator Obama said in his book that he hung out with Marxists while attending college."

I knew where this was leading right away Robert. Maybe he can discuss his younger days while he reminisces with Hillary about her ties to terrorists in her early days. Her ties go back to the 80's and we won't even get into who Bill pardoned while he was president. The 19 Puerto Rican terrorist pardons came after a donation to Hillary Clintons senate campaign.

No matter. We can talk about John McCains domestic terrorism ties at a later date.

Instead of a “generally easygoing conversation,” it would've been helpful to many American voters if Chris Wallace had approached the Obama interview as though it was a job candidate interview. After all, Obama is seeking the top U.S. government job, one of the most important and visible positions in the world. What crucial questions would a prospective employer (the American people) ask? For example, why is Obama applying for the job as President before completing even one full term as a Junior U.S. Senator? What is the real reason he wants the top U.S. job so badly? What are his qualifications for the job, if any? For example, what is the extent of his actual on-the-job experience with important national issues such as the economy, education, alternative energy, the environment, foreign policy, gangs/organized crime, gay rights, health care, homelessness, labor, senior citizens’ issues, social security, sustainable resources, veterans’ issues, the war on illegal drugs, womens’ rights, etc.? What are his actual proposals, if any, regarding such issues? Some of the names on Obama’s job resume are of concern to many Americans. In what specific ways has he worked with people such as Rev. Wright, William Ayers/Bernadine Doehrn, Penny Pritzker, Tony Rezko (whom he met while still in law school and who has contributed extensively to his political campaigns and even helped him buy expensive Chicago real estate)? Is he still working with any of those people (or are any of those people still working with him) and, if so, in what ways? Will he continue to work with them if hired and, if so, in what ways? Did he ever use either of his jobs at the state or federal level to garner preferential treatment for his campaign donors, including those on the Tony Rezko-connected donor list that he shares with Illinois Governor Blagojevich, who’s under federal scrutiny in Rezko’s trial for extortion and fraud? Perhaps ‘Fox News Sunday’ researchers could’ve proposed some interesting questions for Wallace to ask Obama by studying the L.A. Times Online ‘Special Report: Obama and Rezko, the early years,’ which was buried in the blogs rather than placed on the front page where it belonged: Voters eventually will be deciding on someone to lead this country during seriously troubled times, not choosing a 'prom king' or 'mr. congeniality.' They need the facts about Obama’s past and the people in it and the truth about his beliefs and plans for this country, not the vapid evasions and outright lies which the media, including Fox News and the L.A. Times, lazily continue to accept from Obama and lamely attempt to characterize as ‘deft.’

Polls show that Obama does better with educated people and Hilary with uneducated people. After reading a continual stream of blogs over the last few months this really shows in the comments left by supporters of each candidate.

For all those people moaning that Obama will not have a 22nd debate please remember this: he is a very smart guy. Hilary has everything to gain in excessive debates by negetative point scoring and he has everything to lose. He is being tactical and doesn't have to pander to Hilary's every whim. Personally I think he did the last debate because he felt sorry for her.

Obama was great on Fox. I felt a lot of hope about his ability to "cross the aisle" and get things done after watching that.

His ex-Pastor's a mixed bag--intelligent but clueless about his effect on Obama's campaign. But frankly, I'm tired as hell about the media's obsession with him. Can't we please put Barack front and center so that we get to hear discussions about the issues? He's the only one who seems interested in those discussions. We're in serious trouble as a country. And to me, McCain and Hillary are all about "straining at gnats and swallowing camels"---that is, wanting to put our attention on insignificant matters while real political crimes go unnoticed or reported, and do not seem like presidential material themselves.

This not very good review stimulated my gag reflex with its innuendo. The reviewer seems to think that Obama should have an opinion as to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. And...if he doesn't answer it with a number ...thinks he is avoiding the question.

How about taking Wallace to task for not talking substantive issues? How about getting real about the corporate take over and out sourcing of America...starting with our media? How about Fox as a propaganda machine, the likes of which have never before been seen?

Easy Interview. Easy answers. How to solve any problems? NO Answers!
We need Hillary and NOW! Obama is trending down! down. down. Hillary will be our nominee and next President.


They've already had over 20 debates. That's more than we've had in most presidential races.

Perhaps the news media should just COVER the candidates and their respective positions, huh? That would be much more informative than the last "debate" we saw on ABC news. ABC should be ashamed to be using the public airwaves, if that kind of drivel is their idea of journalism.

Pennsylvania was Sen. Clinton's kind of state...yet she only won by 9.3%. Hillary Clinton CAN'T CLOSE THE DEAL. She's thrown all kinds of nonsense (as has her husband, who's been working hard at undermining his legacy) at Obama, keeping the waters muddied, and she still can't close the deal.

Elise in NH

I think Obama did very well in the interview. He answered every question put to him. I don't know what some of these people want from him. He has answered these questions over and over and over. People think Obama is scared to debate Hill? Pull your heads out of the right-wing sandpit. If Hill hasn't made her case by now why people should vote for her, then I'm afraid she might as well give it up. STOP THE DRAMA-VOTE OBAMA....He is the best person for the job.

Has anyone noticed the timing of issues in this Democratic race? For example, the "bitter" comment was held for a full week before it was released and Clinton and ALL of her surrogates went full boar to get this story out there. It was amazing. It also happened a week before the PA vote. Now Rev. Write has a public meltdown that's captured by the media for 2 full hours . . . a week before another primary. This is how the Clintons work, how they've always worked, how the always will work. This puts such a dark shadow over our country. Also look at how each manages their campaign. Obama started off running for President of the UNITED STATES. Clinton started running for President of Super Tuesday. Her plan failed. Since then, her staff have been shuffled, it was leaked that Penn was working with Columbia (that was just the tip of the iceberg . . . there is a HUGE story. Google "Clinton's Columbia Connection"), and she's done nothing but focus on "the big states". So she's going to be "President of the United Big States"? She mismanaged her money, her campaign is broke, she claims to understand blue collar workers like me when they rake in $107 million and her only true connection with PA was that she spent summer vacations in her "summer cottage" there. What is that? Obama, on the other hand, has been running an open campaign in ALL of our beautiful States, has managed the money well, had no issues with his staff. Look at what's been dug up on him- guilt by association. Isn't Hillary married to a guy who was impeached by Congress for lying under oath? Didn't she CHOOSE to stay married to him?

This is to Chris Wallace about unemployment 1-10-10. If our President or any of our RULERS had any common sense? I believe that they shouls see how to create jobs, lot's of them. Here in our little town of Willcox, Az.population 3000. We are busing in and having drive in around 1450 Mexico Mexicans to work here at green houses. Why aren't these jobs being advertised Nationally? America in it's crisis of AMERICAN people being unemployed could be helped alot by banning work permitts to non Nationals until our National crisis is over. I am a Army Veteran, Disabled and I cannot get a job running a fork lift at these 10-15 ten acre green houses as the non Nationals are taking all the work. Over 1600 employees work there, 99% are Mexicans and 98% are from Mexico. America in the November mid term elections, let's vote none of the above if they are not of the people. America's problem is we have politicians RUNNING our country and not working people. My Mom's side of the family Samuel Pierson, at 15 yrs old fought at Valley Forge with General Washington. Severely injured at 16 and continued to fight until cornwallace surrendered. Reverend Abraham Pierson was the founder of Yale and the first Proctor. We need to take back our country from the newest King, Government. We had no Democrates or Republicans in the beginning. Most who RUN our country are Attorneys and you the people who've dealt with an Attorney know it's all about trickery and money. Think America before it's to late. Stop bringing in non American's to work. Give our jobs to Americans. Mr. Dyer.

Obama is a great role model. He doesn't fool around. He's raises his children properly unlik many parents out there raising their kids to be pimps or whores. He's alreay getting the country on the right track. He constantly makes valid points like save your college money and don't waste it in Las Vegas. I wish more americans had their head screwed on this straight. Bowling alley or basketball court what's the difference? He's already done way more than Bush. The best thing Bush did was creating the "Do Not Call" list. It's sad that he allowed our country to fall into such a deep deep deficit. Keep up the good work Obama.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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