Mark Halperin suggests that Barack Obama would do well to have a town hall debate now, to lessen the potential impact of a flub on Iraq in the fall debates. I’m not sure the former will help the latter problem. If Obama messes up in October, the dim memory of a handful of viewers of his performance in the summer won’t help. But there is a sense now beyond pundits that he is “hiding” from voters. Military and Hispanic groups want to hear from him and others may follow suit.
There are good reasons to avoid these settings, particularly if Obama is nervous about operating without a script and teleprompter among unfriendly voters. But at some point he has to clear the bar with voters, show that he lives beyond the Change Agent cocoon and has both the toughness and knowledge to mix it up with McCain. Really, would it be that hard for him?