ANDREA SEABROOK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Andrea Seabrook.
Barack Obama refused to appear on TV's "Fox News Sunday" for more than two years. Now he's trying to win over blue collar and socially conservative voters. They're key in the two states that vote next week - North Carolina and Indiana. So today, finally, he sat down with Fox's Chris Wallace.
NPR's David Welna has the story.
DAVID WELNA: Obama tried to make light of the fact he was ending a de facto boycott of "Fox News Sunday."
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois, Presidential Candidate): It takes me about 772 days to prepare for these questions, although I think this was a leap year in there. So I think it's only 771.
WELNA: Fox News host Chris Wallace said in fact the leap year had been taken into account. When Obama quickly raised Obama's race as a campaign issue, Obama pushed back.
Sen. OBAMA: If I lose it won't be because of race. It'll be because, you know, I made mistakes on the campaign trail, I wasn't communicating effectively.
WELNA: This weekend Obama's former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, is making his first public appearances in months. Wright recently drew wide condemnation after provocative statements he'd made came to light. Fox's Wallace wanted to know if Obama had asked Wright to remain out of the public eye. Obama said he had not.
Sen. OBAMA: It's understandable that somebody after an entire career of service would want to defend themselves.
WELNA: Obama also said he would vote to confirm General David Petraeus as the new head of the U.S. Central Command. But he would not accede to Hillary Clinton's demand for a Lincoln/Douglass-style one-on-one debate?
Sen. OBAMA: Yeah, I'm not ducking. We've had 21. And so, you know, what we've said is with two weeks, two big states, we want to make sure we're talking to as many folks as possible on the ground taking questions from voters. You know, will there be...
Mr. CHRIS WALLACE (Host, "Fox News Sunday"): No debates between now and Indiana?
Sen. OBAMA: We're not going to have debates between now and Indiana.
WELNA: For much of his last debate with Clinton in Philadelphia, Obama was on the defense.
David Welna, NPR News, Washington.
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