YORK, Pennsylvania (CNN) - John McCain used one of his largest and most ambitious town halls to date to brandish a pair of surrogates, Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge, who may help him shore up support among independents in this fall battleground.
The Tuesday stop began with some campaign stunt work that turned the typically-mellow format into a lively Pennsylvania event that resembled one of the noisy rallies that characterized the Democratic primary.
The audience on hand - estimated by the campaign as north of 3,000 people - far exceeded the size of a standard McCain event. And the audience, who had been warmed up by a pair of television screens broadcasting a biographical film about the candidate, rose to their feet when McCain, Lieberman and Ridge arrived.
The trio entered the York Expo Center in the Straight Talk Express, which motored into the indoor venue under a massive American flag that was hoisted up to reveal the campaign bus, all while the theme from “Rocky” blared.
Lieberman then marshaled the audience by seeming to question Obama’s patriotism and commitment to bipartisanship in Washington.
"In my opinion, the choice could not be more clear, between one candidate John McCain who's had experience, been tested in war and tried in peace. Another candidate who has not,” Lieberman said to applause. “Between one candidate, John McCain who's always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not.”
For his part, McCain plugged the moderate records Lieberman and Ridge, and praised their commitment to keeping the country safe.
Though he made a strong push to attract independents in his town hall performance, demanding that congress work together to solve the country’s energy crisis, the GOP nominee for the first time acknowledged he faces a deficit of support among younger voters.
Responding to a former Hillary Clinton supporter who asked what McCain will do for younger Americans, McCain said: “I'll give you straight talk. I need to do a better job with young voters in America.”