Washington (CNN) – Sen. John McCain's Republican primary opponent, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, took a page right out of the underdog playbook on Thursday by challenging McCain to ten debates, the same demand McCain made of Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential race.
Hayworth made the request at a photo-op in front of McCain's campaign headquarters in Phoenix – but his tactic was quickly undermined after McCain's team quickly agreed debate his challenger. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers, however, said his candidate is not committing to all ten debates.
"Former Congressman Hayworth's desperate publicity stunt today re-emphasizes what this race is all about: Who will be most effective for Arizonans in the U.S. Senate," Rogers said. "While Senator McCain is today leading the fight on behalf of Arizonans to stop the government takeover of our health care system, Mr. Hayworth held a press conference in our campaign parking lot."
He added: "Senator McCain is of course willing to debate all certified candidates."
Hayworth said the debates should begin in March.
"Senator McCain has always demonstrated himself to be willing to face off with his opponents in political campaigns," he said in a statement released before McCain agreed to the forums. "I look forward to a vigorous and respectful series of joint appearances where we can discuss how we view the future of the Republican Party and our country."
NOTE: The original version of this story said McCain agreed to all 10 debates, which is not the case.