At Home in Midwest, Obama Explains Why He Refused Debate Challenge

Apr 27, 2008 2:24pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports: Sen. Barack Obama spent his Sunday attending St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and afterwards dropping by a local restaurant called the "Country Kitchen" for wings and corn bread in Indianapolis, Ind.

The presidential hopeful answered a few questions before entering the predominately African American eatery — and explained why he won’t agree to rival Sen. Hillary Clinton’s weekend challenge for a one-on-one, Lincoln-Douglas-style debate without a moderator.

"We’ve got nine days to try to campaign and meet as many voters as possible," he said. "So rather than being in a studio, I want to make sure that we’re reaching out to folks where they live, answering their questions and having as many interactions as possible."

Obama said he would be more than happy to consider additional debates after Indiana and North Carolina’s May 6 primaries.

Obama said winning Indiana is simply achieving 50 percent of the vote plus one percent more.

"There’s no doubt that Indiana is a state where it’s close," he said. "It’s tied statistically in the polls."

The Illinois Democrat tried to show he’s connected to voters in Hoosier state, saying that the people of Indiana have Midwestern values like citizens of Illinois do.

Obama would not answer questions on how damaging it would be if he loses Indiana, or — on a day when his comments aired on what he heard the Rev. Jeremiah Wright say in sermons — whether Wright’s recent media appearance has been damaging.

On both questions, he told reporters, "I’ll let you guys prognosticate."

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