Absorbing the Iowa debate today, Ambinder channels Todd here:
One glaring missed opportunity for Obama to show contrast with Clinton came, not from a moderator question, but from a voter question who asked about a time when the candidate didn't say everything they thought. Remember, Clinton critiqued Obama for saying everything he thought. If the places were reversed, Clinton would not have missed an opportunity like that. This is where Obama's inexperience as a politician shows. He's just not very tactical, which to some may seem like a refreshing change but in primary politics, isn't a recipe for success. Frankly, it was a moment of political campaign inexperience. Tactically, these debates do show that Obama hasn't had many tough campaigns, which may explain why he misses opportunities like this one.
Here's the focus group transcript. They liked Obama:
Christian: I think he continues to demonstrate that he's got a nuanced approach to the answers and he understands that they are not easy and he is willing to look at all sides and involve that in his policy.
Frank: more than any other candidate?
Christian: More than any other candidate and he's more precise with how he responds.
Frank: You also were not an Obama person but you thought he won. Tell me why?
Participant: I thought he was very relaxed and very honest and he seemed very open. Willing to answer any question straightforward.
Participant: he seemed very sincere. I was disappointed in Edwards I came in here as an Edwards supporter. And he just seemed too staged too not with it. Obama just seems to stand behind what he says.
Frank: was that enough to change your support?
Participant: At this point yes
Frank: Did anyone else switch from who they came in here for
Frank: Hillary to...?
Participant: I probably would say more Barack Obama now.
Frank: How many of you thought that she was the biggest disappointment of the debate, raise your hand
Frank: Why? Did she not look presidential to you
Participant: She looked very staged. She looked very cold and I was fairly disappointed coming in as a Hillary supporter. Im not saying that it changed my view, but it did disappoint me quite a bit.
Frank: Tell me why?
Participant: She came across as being very, she was very outgoing and very in control but her answers were wishy washy.
Frank: Great. That was, you've got a clear winner here you've got Obama is the winner. Hillary Clinton is the disappointment of the debate. You know that every time that we do this there is a different answer, there is a different response based on the people that we have here at Des Moines University, but one thing is for clear, Obama is getting better and better as time goes on. The language he uses, the way that he presents himself, his use of facts and figures, he's becoming a whole candidate and I think you'll see that in the polls in the coming weeks.
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