DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) – A Republican presidential candidate forum in Iowa is undergoing a few format changes due to a lack of participation from the GOP field.
Only three candidates - Arizona Sen. John McCain, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee– had RSVP'd for the AARP/Iowa Public Television 'Divided We Fail' forum on October 25. But on Friday, with the news that Brownback will be ending his presidential bid, AARP announced that the format will turn into that of a town hall-style meeting. The organization will now hold individual forums with the candidates on health and financial security.
“Frankly, we’re disappointed that most of the Republican candidates, including the supposed front-runners, have chosen to skip Sioux City and our Divided We Fail Forum on health and financial security issues," Bruce Koeppl, AARP's Iowa director, said in a statement.
“There’s really no excuse for these candidates to not want to talk about the top domestic issues in Western Iowa with our members," he continued, "particularly since their campaigns were advised to save the date back in March and officially invited in July.”
The Democratic portion of the same forum, held in September and broadcast nationally on PBS, included all major Democratic candidates except Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. The newly-rennovated GOP town halls will not have as wide of a television audience, but Iowa Public Television will still broadcast coverage statewide on its weekly show "Iowa Journal."
– CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch