On the "Today" show this morning, Matt Lauer asked Barack Obama about the suggestion -- advanced by the Hillary Clinton campaign and others -- that Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate was ultimately about six men ganging up on a single woman.
"Well, look, I am assuming and I hope that Sen. Clinton wants to be treated like everybody else. And I think that that's why she's running for president. You know, when we had a debate back in Iowa a while back, we spent, I think, the first 15 minutes of the debate hitting me on various foreign policy issues, and I didn't come out and say, 'Look, I'm being hit on because I look different from the rest of the folks on the stage.' I assumed it was because there were real policy differences there. And I think that has to be the attitude that all of us take. We're not running for the president of the city council, we're running for the president of the United States of America."
Lauer: So you don't feel as though you have to be sensitive at all to this gender issue; that if you do vigorously challenge Sen. Clinton that it might take on a more perilous tone than if you vigorously challenge a male candidate?
Obama: No. Look, I don't think that people doubt that Sen. Clinton is tough. She's used to playing in national politics. And in fact, that is one of the things that she has suggested is why she should be elected is because she's been playing in this rough-and-tumble stage. So it doesn't make sense for her, after having run that way for eight months, the first time that people start challenging her point of view that suddenly she backs off and says, "Don't pick on me." I think that that is not obviously how we would expect her to operate if she were president.