Obama ‘flew by’ commander-in-chief test, advisers say

Democratic presidential nominee Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama marks MLK Day by honoring King for his 'poetic brilliance' and 'moral clarity' Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina National Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo MORE’s campaign manager said Saturday that the Illinois senator “not only passed” the commander-in-chief test in Friday night’s debate, but “flew by it.” 

David Plouffe told reporters that the campaign was “thrilled” with how Obama handled himself against Republican rival Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Meghan McCain blasts NY Times: 'Everyone already knows how much you despise' conservative women GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials MORE (Ariz.), saying that he “did a world of good last night with undecided voters.”

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Despite the Obama campaign’s confidence in the Democratic nominee’s performance, the McCain camp said Friday night that the Arizona Republican had successfully painted a picture of his rival as inexperienced and unprepared to be president.

Plouffe retorted, however, that McCain was “on the defensive” for much of the night in a debate where the topic -- foreign affairs -- was supposed to be McCain’s “home turf.”

The Obama campaign has tried to make much of the fact that McCain did not mention the “middle class” once, as it tries to push the narrative that McCain is out of touch and only looking to reward the wealthy with his proposed tax cuts. A significant portion of the debate, which was supposed to be solely on foreign policy, was about the economy in light of the current crisis on Wall Street.

“John McCain kind of spoke by them and engaged in a lot of Washington talk,” Plouffe said.

 But the McCain camp countered back that their rival was on a "mad-dash of damage control" Saturday morning.

 “While American troops are battling terror on two fronts, Barack Obama failed to utter the word 'victory' a single time during last night's debate on foreign policy – and that’s failing the ‘commander-in-chief test’ by any standard," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. "Despite that fact, his campaign launched a mad-dash of damage-control this morning attempting to claim a debate ‘victory’ for Barack Obama when he was clearly struggling to defend his record of lavish new government spending, higher taxes and failed foreign policy judgment."

Analysts seem to have coalesced around the theory that the big question in this election is whether Obama can earn the trust of undecided voters and convince them that a freshman senator is ready to be commander-in-chief as the nation fights two wars.

While Plouffe said he doesn’t expect any “major movement” in the polls after Friday night’s clash, but added that the Illinois Democrat went a long way in passing that commander-in-chief test.

With the next presidential debate less than two weeks away and the first and only vice presidential debate less than a week away, Plouffe was already trying to manage expectations Saturday morning as he painted McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, as a talented debater.

The next presidential debate, set to take place in Nashville, Tenn., is a townhall format, which, Plouffe insisted, gives McCain a “home field advantage.” The Obama campaign manager called McCain the “undisputed townhall champion.”