(CNN)—Sen. John McCain’s campaign is moving ahead with its plans for a weekly town hall debate even though rival Sen. Barack Obama declined the invitation, but the Arizona senator isn’t taking the easy way out - he’s filling his audience with undecided voters.
“We are looking to appeal to people to come to our town halls who have yet to make up their mind. And are not affiliated with either party,” McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds told CNN.
To do so, the campaign hired Direct Response Group of Phoenix to reach out to specific communities in search of those undecided, unaffiliated voters who are interested in attending the event.
Unlike some presidential candidates of the past, the goal is to create a forum where the audience is not hand picked so that “everyday Americans are able to ask the serious questions, instead of staged, controlled events,” said Bounds.
The McCain’s campaign plans to pay the organization between $8,000 and $10,000 for a town hall once a week leading up to the convention.
The audiences are filled with 150 to 300 undecided voters with the exception of a few “key supporters,” and local public officials who have endorsed the Arizona senators presidential bid.
Thus far, the audience response has been positive and many of the ideas from voters have been directly incorporated into the campaign Bounds said.
“We get tough questions, but he enjoys it,” Bounds said of McCain “It’s an opportunity for him to actually hear what people are thinking and to respond.”
Bounds also said the offer remains open to the presumptive Democratic nominee.
“We have every expectation that when Barack Obama is interested in elevating the debate, he will join us on the campaign trail,” he said.