The Clinton campaign should milk this like mad. Here's their first parry:
It is unfortunate that Senator Obama has chosen to brush off the people of North Carolina by flatly refusing to debate....Flatly refusing.
Hillary Clinton is committed to debating the issues facing the Tar Heel State. We hope Sen. Obama will make the same commitment
They must be furiously brainstorming: What's the most apt way to plant in people's minds that he's chicken, that he's weakening, tiring, and he doesn't want to give people a chance to see it?
Howard Kurtz says:
In political terms, Obama had little incentive for another face-off. He's comfortably ahead in the Tarheel State, and after drawing most of the tough questions in last week's ABC debate in Pennsylvania, he undoubtedly wasn't looking forward to a sequel.(Is it Tar Heel or Tarheel? It's Tar Heel.)
I disagree with Kurtz. 1. Even if Obama is ahead, he should try to defeat Clinton as impressively as possible. 2. His poor performance is the reason to come back with a solid performance. 3. It's not just about North Carolina; it's about proving to all of us and to the superdelegates that he's the better candidate. 4. He's handed her a fat, juicy issue, and she'll take advantage of it (which in itself will be a demonstration of her fighting strength as a candidate).
And speaking of weakness and evasiveness, the Obama quote of the day is "Why can't I just eat my waffle?"