INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Sunday he would not hold another debate with rival Hillary Clinton until after the May 6 nominating contests in North Carolina and Indiana.
Clinton had challenged the Illinois senator and front-runner for the Democratic White House nomination to a 90-minute debate in Indiana without a moderator, but Obama turned her down.
“We’ve got nine days to try to campaign and reach as many voters as possible, and so rather than being in a studio, I want to make sure that we’re reaching out to folks where they live, answering their questions,” Obama told reporters.
He said he would be “more than happy to consider” another debate with the New York senator and former first lady after the two upcoming primary contests.
Campaigning in North Carolina, Clinton said she regretted Obama’s rejection of a pre-primary debate.
“We need a president on day one ready to be our commander in chief, ready to turn our economy around,” she told a rally on the banks of the Cape Fear River in Wilmington. “That is why I have to say I am very, very regretful that my opponent will not agree to a debate in North Carolina, because I think these issues are worth debating.”
After Indiana and North Carolina, there will be only six more contests in the space of one month to finish the process of voting for a Democrat to face Republican John McCain in the November election.
Reporting by Jeff Mason; editing by David Wiessler