"We simply cannot run the kind of campaign we want and need to, engaging with voters in the early states and February 5 states, if our schedule is dictated by dozens of forums and debates," writes Obama campaign manager David Plouffe in a statement posted on the candidate's Web site Saturday morning. "Ultimately, the one group left out of the current schedule is the voters and they are the ones who ask the toughest questions and most deserve to have those questions answered face to face."
So from here on out, says Plouffe, Obama will only participate in the five remaining debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, two December debates in Iowa and a Sept. 9 debate in Miami to be aired on the Spanish-language channel Univision.
Sen. Obama connects most effectively with voters when he is telling stories. And I suspect that the Obama team has determined that debates and forums with bite-sized statements from seven or eight candidates are a very poor format for his story-centric communication.