Frm Politico.com By: Ryan Grim
April 28, 2008 11:02 AM EST
"Barack Obama finally appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” stopping the "Obama Watch" clock at 772 days and change. And, believe it or not, it was a friendly exchange, touching on familiar themes.
Host Chris Wallace, who had started the clock because Obama has steadfastly refused to do his show, asked about Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, as well as his Chicago connection to Weather Underground figure William Ayers. And he sought specific examples of how the Illinois senator has, or will, put into practice the bipartisanship that he preaches.
Obama pushed back against “top-down, command-and-control” regulation that was popular with the left in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He credited the GOP with pushing market-oriented solutions and cited his support of a cap-and-trade system for controlling carbon emissions.
“I think that the Republican Party and people who thought about the markets came up with the notion that, you know, what if you simply set some guidelines, some rules and incentives for businesses, let them figure out how they're going to, for example, reduce pollution. It's a smarter way of doing it,” he said.
On education, Obama said “we should be experimenting with charter schools” and “should be experimenting with different ways of compensating teachers.” Both positions run counter to those strongly backed by teachers unions, a core segment of the Democratic Party base.
Obama also cited a vote on tort reform that angered trial lawyers — another key segment of the Democratic base. And while he opposed the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, Obama noted that he took to the popular blog DailyKos in defense of colleagues who supported Roberts for chief justice.
“There are a lot of liberal commentators who think I’m too accommodating,” Obama said.
Wallace also pressed Obama on comments he made at the last Democratic presidential debate with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton about Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Ayers, the former member of the violent Weather Underground. Obama had said that he should no more be assumed to endorse Coburn’s position that doctors who perform abortions should face the death penalty than he should be assumed to endorse the Weather Underground’s embrace of violence in opposition to the Vietnam War.
Obama told Wallace that he called Coburn immediately after the debate to make sure he wasn't offended.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean refused to be pinned down on whether the candidate leading in elected delegates at the end of the primaries and caucuses — almost certain to be Obama — should necessarily win the nomination.
Dean, however, did acknowledge that he didn’t expect the superdelegates to overturn the will of the elected delegates. “That hasn’t happened” in the past, he said. “I don’t expect that to happen.”
He also hinted that some rule changes may be happen down the road. “Are there some rules I might change next time around? Yeah, maybe so,” he said.
Dean gave some fodder to the Clinton campaign as well, saying that the race is “essentially pretty close to a tie” — an assertion with which the Obama campaign has quibbled.
Pressed on the issue, Dean the elected delegates reflected the will of the people, but added that the superdelegates also reflect the will of the people.
He reiterated that he wanted all superdelegates to make their preferences known by the end of June. Superdelegates, he said, need to “just keep dribbling it in.”
Host Tim Russert also asked Dean about his pledge, before Democrats took back the Senate and the House in 2006, that Democrats would ensure that Osama bin Laden was captured.
“I was wrong,” Dean said, adding, in response to a follow-up question, that bin Laden hasn’t been captured because President Bush wasn’t interested in capturing him.
Russert then offered Dean a chance to back off, but Dean declined. “The proof is in the pudding,” he said.
On ABC, George Stephanopoulos hosted two pairs of Obama-Clinton surrogates on “This Week.” In Clinton’s corner were Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). And in Obama’s corner were former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.).
Bayh pushed early for superdelegates to rely on the popular vote in the primaries when deciding their preferences and argued that Florida votes should be counted despite the state’s violation of Democratic Party rules. That metric most favors Clinton.
Unsurprisingly, the Obama pair objected. “How do you cut out all those caucus states?” Daschle asked.
The South Dakotan also noted that Bayh voted to support an energy bill that Clinton is now thrashing Obama for having backed in 2005. Bayh, in turn, noted that Daschle had supported it, too.
Top Democratic campaign aides also assembled for CBS’ “Face the Nation,” with Clinton’s Howard Wolfson squaring off with Obama’s David Axelrod.
Wolfson pleaded for more time, arguing that “[w]e have Florida and Michigan yet to be decided.”
“After significant losses in Ohio and Pennsylvania on behalf of Senator Obama,” Wolfson said, “I think Democrats do have questions about whether or not he is going to be able to reach out and successfully win over the kind of blue-collar voters that Democrats need to win in order to take the White House back in November.”
Axelrod countered that Obama was at least as good a general election candidate as Clinton.
“There was a poll last week that showed us leading in her home state of New York by a point more than she was,” he noted."