June 8th, 2008
04:54 PM ET
4 years ago

Campaigns reject Bloomberg, ABC offer for televised town hall

Sen. John McCain has called for ten joint appearances before the Democratic Convention in August.
Sen. John McCain has called for ten joint appearances before the Democratic Convention in August.

NEW YORK (CNN) -– If presumptive presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain do hold joint town hall meetings before the political conventions, you’ll have plenty of options to watch them.

Both campaigns Sunday quickly rejected an offer by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ABC News to hold the first such get-together as a 90-minute, prime time broadcast on ABC.

But the Obama and McCain camps said the idea of one network putting on the event is a non-starter.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, “Both campaigns indicate that any additional appearances will be open to all networks for broadcast on TV or Internet like the presidential commission debates, rather than sponsored by a single network or news organization.”

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said, "Both campaigns agree the town hall meetings will be open to press but not sponsored or moderated by the press."

The idea of the town hall style meetings was again raised on the campaign trial last week by McCain, who called for ten joint appearances before the Democratic Convention in August. He proposed the first one be held later this month at Federal Hall in New York, saying in a letter to Obama, "What a welcome change it would be were presidential candidates in our time to treat each other and the people they seek to lead with respect and courtesy as they discussed the great issues of the day, without the empty sound bites and media-filtered exchanges that dominate our elections."

He said they should be modeled on appearances President John F. Kennedy and Barry Goldwater planned on holding in the 1964 campaign, before President Kennedy’s death.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said the idea would be discussed, but suggested a different format. He said, "The idea of joint town halls is appealing and one that would allow a great conversation to take place about the need to change the direction of this country… We would recommend a format that is less structured and lengthier than the McCain campaign suggests, one that more closely resembles the historic debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. But, having just secured our party's nomination, this is one of the many items we will be addressing in the coming days and look forward to discussing it with the McCain campaign."


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (306 Responses)
  1. Hoang, UC Berkeley

    Many Obama supporters have bashed Hillary's for deciding to stay home, write in Hillary's name on the ballots, or even vote for McCain. The thing is that you don't understand. This is a Presidential Election. You don't vote for a party; you vote for a president. It does not matter whether Obama is from the Democratic Party, nor does he have similar plans with Hillary. WHEN YOU VOTE FOR A PRESIDENT, YOU VOTE FOR THE PERSON YOU TRUST, YOU VOTE FOR THE PERSON YOU THINK THAT WILL DO THE BEST JOB, YOU VOTE FOR THE PERSON WHO CAN LEAD THE COUNTRY, AND FINALLY BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY YOU VOTE FOR THE PERSON WHO THINKS FAST AND ACTS FAST TO PROTECT YOU WHEN AN EMMERGENCY OCCURS. As a typical Hillary's supporter, I DON'T THINK AND DON'T BELIEVE THAT OBAMA IS THAT PERSON. I'm gonna write in Hillay anyway. I'M NOT VOTING FOR A PARTY; I'M VOTING FOR A PRESIDENT.

    June 8, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. mn

    I want to know more about McCain's life before he married Cindy and AFTER he was a POW. How he dealt with the emotional scars of that time period would have had a great deal to do with the kind of man he has become.
    Why doesn't anyone report on that? He didn't marry her until he was in his 40's, he is 71 now. What was he doing from the time he was released as a POW and when he turned 40? Those years would shape his life , the public needs to know what kind of man he was/is.

    June 8, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. steve

    PBS or C-SPAN..............the rest keep the he11 out of it ....you acannot even conduct unbiased interviews...you are in competition with the candidates try to MAKE news out of yourselves...well you have and it has been pathetic, all of you!

    Professional journalism is dead in America......

    PBS, BBC, C-Span RULE!

    June 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. bob in LA

    Niether party has a candidate yet, so it is premature for either to agree to any sort of townhall.
    the news networks wil just have to find some other story to blow way out of porportion to fill their air time and fuel their air-headed reporters.

    June 8, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. Voter

    Let go Obama

    I respect Hillary voters

    June 8, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. Sue

    OBAMA should hold McSame's request till a time of his choosing. McSame has had 3 months to do his bio tours, etc and Obama needs the space to do his own things, foreign trip, etc before any so called town-hall forums.

    Just think – if McSame were ahead, will he be calling for joint town-halls? He has no ideas and is just looking for an Obama gaffe.

    June 8, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. j

    I agree with Brian Williams of NBC that they need a moderator (or referee) but it should be open to all networks.

    June 8, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  8. John, Hyannis Port

    Seems like McCain wants to have a civilized series of debates with Obama-–Obama will offer that but cut McCain into shreds without blinking an eye-McCain is a sorry character and he will be so dazzled that he won't know where he is--like Hillary's campaign staff, McCain will be out smarted--

    Obama 08'

    June 8, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. Vig

    I intend to turn the channel every time the faces of these two men show up to tell how they will change the world. Two hundred years later, and we are still looking at the faces of men running for the Presidency, both of whom can't hold a candle to Clinton. WRITE HER IN TO WIN.

    June 8, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. University of Penn State

    Though I am a advent Hillary Supporter and also very sad to see her suspend her campaign. I hope that Obama gives Mccain he!! during those events. Maybe I'll think about voting for him once I see where his interest lies.

    Unlike the people who won't vote for obama because of frivolous issues, color, sex, etc.

    As a woman, I vote with my mind first before my heart.

    June 8, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. TXBad1 ( ex Democrat)

    Challenge to Obama and McCain, Have debates in Rural county's in Texas and America where a lot of Voters are, Real Problems and questions will be asked if you have the time to if not, Maybe the rural Voters will not have time to Vote for you!

    June 8, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  12. Rick, Chicago

    McCain should just drop out--he's really wasting our time--I see the future and it's Nas and 50 Cent running things from the Blue Room in the White House-

    June 8, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  13. Helen, NY

    John McCain does not have to debate Barack because Barack is not yet ready to become our president. He has no real background and any resume. We are in America which is the most powerful nation in the world so how can we put Barack in the White House. He has no experience whatwoever and he is coming from the radical wing of Democratic party.

    June 8, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  14. No Longer Concerned

    Sound like the right decision – both campaign made a great point about not allowing only one network to cover the debate. McCain and Obama would like maximum exposure, therefore the debate should be open to all networks or to the internet. McCain would benefit greatly from these type of debates – it would keep more money in his war chest. But he should be careful about what he wish for – it could be his biggest nightmare. McCain thinks Obama would be weak and unable to withstand scrutiny or think on his feet. But the image of Obama standing besides him looking young, fresh and energized would not help McCain. Perosnally I think Obama will do a great job one on one with McCain. BRING IT ON............OBAMA 08 & 12.

    June 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  15. GERALD STROTHER

    WILL YOU JOHN MCCAIN PEOPLES GO AWAY WE ARE GOING TO BET YOU BAD!!!!!!!! GO OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 8, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. ki-jana carter

    Great idea McCain, seeing as you suck at talking.

    June 8, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. OKMom4Obama

    To Vig – get over yourself. The Country is moving on while you are still harboring feelings that mean something only to you.
    To Univ of Penn St – thanks for thinking about voting for Obama, but I'm a little curious that you don't know his interests. I'm a supporter of Obama, but I also knew where Hill stood on issues.
    I hope all Americans study the issues to help make a sound decision in Nov. Unfortunately it seems like we only hear what we want to hear. The biggest issue for me is the Supreme Court. If McCain wins – so much for folks like Vig who think they are hurting Obama – no they are hurting themselves because women issues will definitely be in danger if McCain wins. Please educate yourselves.

    June 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  18. JZ

    It's ridiculous for people to think Obama will not be good at town hall meetings, I watched several of them he attended throughout the season.
    Becareful McSame you might just get what you wish for.

    Hilary voters plz listen to Obama's policies and go on website for more info, he has a long blueprint for change that you can read and blogs if you want to ask any questions, we are ready to answer all your questions and earn your support

    June 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. Bill from Cleveland, ohio

    I bet Obama didn't want to go on TV, because he knows he
    always makes a fool of himself.

    When he debated Hillary all he did was say, I agree with Sen. Clinton
    because he had no clue of what to say.

    June 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  20. charles

    l do not trust cnn and most of the news network. they seem to be more comcerned about fuelling the feud between obama and clinton. all they do is ask negative things. wl u do this fr that candidate or wl u not do that fr the candidate. this is nonsense.its about time cnn and al of them start compering obama and mcbush on issues when asking voters. just becoz issues dont sell doesnt mean you have to ignore them. thats how you were mislead to a war coz cnn and all the news network didnt ask about issues. cnn and all news networks stop choosing the president let the voters choose. the world is in peril becoz of you. enough of yr nonsense.

    June 8, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  21. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    That was nice of Mayor Bloomberg and ABC. But I can understand what both campaigns are saying about all media should be invited.

    As far as you Hilliary supporters, you all are becoming as sickening as Billary.

    Obama for President
    No Hillary or Bayh for VP

    June 8, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  22. Sara

    Wow! I can't believe how smug and naive the Obama supporters are. All your Kumbya, and unity BS isn't going to reverse the damage done these last 8 years. It's going to take a REAL fighter to get things done. You are all living in a dream world! The Republicans are going to eat you alive!
    A life long (disenchanted) Democrat

    June 8, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  23. Linda K.

    To Rick and Helen,

    You're both showing your prejudices. Barack Obama is a professional and not a hip-hop gangster. Don't stereotype. In terms of experience, I challenge you to go to his website and read his bio–or read an unbiased bio anywhere on the web–before making general statements. Obama does have experience. Not all of it is in Washington. But is Washington experience all that counts?

    June 8, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  24. JZ

    All i'm asking you hilary supporters is to study the issues first. Do we want to occupy Iraq for 100 more years? do we want to be ranked #28 in world in Education still in another 4yrs? Do we want to let our chances at healthcare reform slip by?

    Plz I want a better future for my kids, John McCain isn't going to invest in America or offer anything better than Bush. Matter of fact, he's going to cut Govt Spending, spending on projects that might actually be good for average americans.

    Yes our economy is actually "expanding" and the stock prices keep going up over the period of last 8yrs. but in a economy where 1% of the people hold more than 50% of the stocks, no wonder average americans are suffering.

    Who is better to lead us out of this hard times than Obama? I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I was raised by a single parent – mother. And I wish people who are less fortunate and have less opportunity will have the same chances as the other ones only if they want to work for it.

    Thank you again voters of all ages who previous supported Hilary, we need you, in this defining moment of American history.

    June 8, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  25. bill in pa

    Wasn't ABC the network that bushwacked Obama with George Stephanapolus and Charlie Gibson. Leave it to those clowns to look for an exclusive.

    June 8, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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