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Citing New Hampshire “Spanking,” Obama Cautious After Debate

New York, N.Y. — With the last presidential debate over, the Obama campaign bus is stocked with champagne. En route to a flight to New Hampshire on Thursday morning, the campaign cooler was still stocked with champagne from debate night. I haven’t seen any corks actually popping, however, and now the candidate is pushing back on premature celebrations.

“For those of you who are feeling giddy, or cocky, or think this is all set, I just have two words for you: New Hampshire,” said Sen. Barack Obama, speaking to a breakfast fund-raiser at the Metropolitan Club today. “I’ve been in these positions before when we were favored and the press starts getting carried away and we end up getting spanked.”

Then he referenced the hometown senator to hammer the point. “That’s another good lesson that Hillary Clinton taught me, so we want to make sure that we are closing strong, running through the tape,” said Obama, according to notes from a pool reporter.

Obama also cast the campaign homestretch as the dawn of a new era:

One of the things that I think we have to remember is that we are now 19 days, not from the end, but from the beginning. The amount of work that will be involved for the next president is going to be extraordinary…. What we want to do in these 19 days is show the same passion for Americans who are struggling out there, show the same dedication, show the same stick-to-it-ness, show the same steadiness that’s going to be required in guiding this country past some very difficult times.

Obama did not say much about the final debate; he simply quipped that he is “deeply saddened that after 26 debates, we have no more debates.” Many voters feel the same probably — though the debates clearly helped Obama address concerns about his candidacy and build on the lead he starting opening up in mid-September.

Sen. John McCain’s spirited performance on Wednesday night did not net him any victories in the network news polls. He finished the third debate without ever mentioning the “middle class” — an omission Obama’s aides emphasize - while McCain said “Ayers” six times and “ACORN” three times.

McCain did stress middle-class concerns, however, by repeatedly evaluating tax and health care costs for how they affect “Joe the Plumber,” the latest insta-celebrity in the reality show that is the 2008 campaign.

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