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Obama Shreds Conservative Pundit

Sen. Barack Obama upped his intensity this week — launching three consecutive attack ads; tweaking Sen. John McCain, his Republican rival in speeches, and grappling with a feisty pundit in a key swing state. In a telling exchange, Obama pushed back hard against Nevada commentator Joe Ralston, staking out his energy positions and cornering Ralston as basically a stand-in for McCain. The performance thrilled one fan on Daily Kos, who cheered Obama taking on the "contentious interviewer":

Obama explodes a bunch of the mischaracterizations of his energy policy — but my absolute favorite part was how Barack just would not let the guy cut him off before he finished answering the question.

At the same time, some Democrats continue to worry that Obama is not hitting hard enough. A front page Washington Post story expands on that argument today, with blind quotes like this:

Obama has not responded [to the GOP's personal attacks] with a parallel assault on McCain’s character…. Such attacks have raised worries among Democratic strategists — haunted by [losses in 2004 and 2000] — that Obama has not responded in kind with a parallel assault on McCain’s character. Interviews with nearly a dozen Democratic strategists found those concerns to be widespread, although few wished to be quoted by name…

Said another Democratic consultant: "There needs to be a negative McCain track beyond the Bush policy stuff. One of the great strengths of the Obama campaign has been to not listen to the D.C. chattering class. They have a plan and they stick to it. But clearly, the D.C. chattering class are all wringing their hands."

In person, Obama is good at directly rebutting attacks while maintaining his composure and dignity — as the video below shows. Overall, his campaign is raising more questions about McCain’s character, if often a bit delicately. The most galling part of the criticism from "nearly a dozen Democratic strategists," however, is that while warning Obama not to repeat the mistakes of past Democratic campaigns, they repeat their own — anonymously whining to the press about their fears of looking weak.. Obviously, a weak thing to do.

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