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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Obama Scrambles for Attention

September 16, 2008

Barrack Obama is finding himself in a peculiar position. He is no longer the darling of the voting public, and he is finding himself scrambling for attention from voters who remain enamored by the country’s newest political star Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Everyone continues to be obsessed with Republican Presidential nominee John McCain’s running mate and there is no indication this will change anytime soon. From Saturday Night Live to the mainstream media the focus remains on "Sarah" and this fixation is only helping the McCain candidacy.

Both The New York Times and The Washington Post are leading the way with silly editorials and front page newspaper stories desperately trying to uncover anything from Palin’s past that might put her in an unfavorable light. The agenda is under the guise of the public’s right to know.

Take Charlie Gibson of ABC News in his exclusive network interview – he, too, couldn’t resist the temptation to look down on Governor Palin during his interview, and he was universally panned for what appeared to be a condescending attitude.

Reporters continue to question her qualifications despite the approval of a vast majority of Americans. The press fails to recognize that voters determine qualifications on a host of personal and professional attributes - not just a resume.

The public is also aware that many past presidential candidates - Pat Buchanan, Sargent Shriver, Elizabeth Dole, Gary Bauer, and Wesley Clark to name a few - were never elected to public office - yet still ran for President and their qualifications were never questioned.

Governor Palin continues to attract huge crowds wherever she goes and the McCain-Palin ticket continues to surge in the polls. Voters genuinely like her and are perceiving uneven treatment of her by the media.

The Obama campaign wants to regain its political footing and they are burning the midnight oil trying to figure out a good strategy. Fact is they don’t have to look very far for an answer. They simply need to keep the focus of the campaign on Senator McCain as well as what Obama will do as President.

Obama would also do well to remember his own circumstance in the primary fight against Senator Clinton. Clinton consistently criticized Obama and downplayed his victories in South Carolina and Iowa and the result was Obama’s popularity soared. Many thought that Obama was being unfairly treated at the time and voters backed him up. Only when Clinton stopped focusing on Obama did she regain lost momentum and begin winning primaries.

Clinton finally understood that voters do not like a candidate who whines or feels "entitled" to hold office and the public’s perception of Senator Clinton changed as she showed more grit and determination. Her political standing today remains high because of the way she handled herself during those trying days.

Now it’s Obama’s turn to show us if he can withstand a tough campaign - and if he does - he too will gain the respect of the voters. The Obama-Biden ticket needs to resist the temptation of personally attacking either McCain or Palin and focus on what they plan to do for the country if elected.

The presidential and vice presidential debates have yet to come and Governor Palin and Senator McCain will make themselves available to more questions and interviews between now and election day. This will give voters ample time to assess these candidates and come to their own conclusions about their qualifications and positions.

The same is true for Obama-Biden. They too will receive more public scrutiny in the form of interviews and debates and  voters will decide for themselves how to react to their answers and statements as well.

In the end it’s the voters who make the choice - using their own intuition – and they usually get it right.