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

Campaigns reject Bloomberg, ABC offer for televised town hall

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/08/art.mccain.gi.jpg
caption="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)

    McCain's ONLY reasoning for wanting these townhall meetings is because he does not do well in any other setting, he also wants to get his jabs in, you know the Republican style wise cracks, plus he wants to benefit from Obama drawing the crowds.

    If I was Obama I would only agree to maybe one or two at the most. Let McCain draw his own crowds, plus pay his own way around the nation full price!

    Obama don't be fooled by him, don't benefit him in any way. You don't need him he needs you! Obama please don't play these mind games with him the way you did with Hillary, don't cut him no slack make him earn his way through this race.

    I can't stand how the Republicans play games with silly cracks and I just got a feeling these townhall meetings will lead to this, a way for them to put their added spins on the smallest things Obama says without so much focus on McCain except the obvious how silly he looks in comparsion to young, intellegent, handsome Obama.

    June 8, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  2. to democrat women

    A Vote for McCain is

    all the same, and

    a Vote to overturn Roe Vs. Wade

    Abortions will not be a Womens choice. Wether you agree with it our not. You may want a choice.

    If that happens do not complain.

    Take the emotional out of the Vote. Hillary hurt herself when she said McCain was better than her fellow Dems candidates. Ie Obama

    Now, she has to go back and say she was lying.

    Gop already using her Line online.

    Obama did her a better service and earned more money. The money came from the people, not media, senators or special interest like Hillary , Just the people.

    McCain will loss this fall, as the economy continues to crumble and the sectarian violence continues in Iraq. Iraq and Iran are cutting deal this week., while our troops continue to die in a civil war.

    June 8, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  3. magic

    Lou Dobbs says America is losing its identity. Obama and the politically correct news media contribute to the loss. Is Obama first an American or first an African? We can see his color of which like being white is nothing to boast of nor be ashamed of. Is he running for president of the United States of America or Africa? He needs to drop the divisive African American and just be an American like every other proud citizen of America.

    June 8, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  4. mike

    Don't do it John – "There be Dragons" You'll get your butt whopped by Obama. Best to stay away from debates unless you're really trying to unite the country behind Obama. (Which would be honorable, but I don't think that's your real intent)

    June 8, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  5. NG from CA

    TO Hoang, UC Berkeley,

    You wrote earlier that you will write Hillary in the ballot fo the presidential election. My question to you is: do you honestly think that she will actually become a president by putting her name on the ballot?
    You know the difference between Hillary and Barack is? the Difference is that Hillary brain washed her supporters to look down on him, hate him disrespect him and that is why many of her supporters think he is not good without even listening or giving him a chance. Barack in the other hand tried to put his defferences between hi and her, not once he came and said she doesn't deserve to be a president and that he is out of touch, and that Mcain is better than her. Rmemberr she was the one who said these things.

    Let me tell you something, she mught be tough person, a fighter, but she is not honest, sincere respectful candidate, she will whatever it takes to get her way and if she doesn't get her way she tries to screw everyone.

    June 8, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  6. DP, Fullerton, CA

    This town hall model debate is the most prestigious debate model because no interference from the moderator, which is commonly seen as not fair as they should be.

    Let's see if there is no help from the press, will Obama be able to show that he is capable and experienced enough to be the President of the United States.

    I'm sure all the Obama supporters will not want to be moderated by a moderator who is biased toward republicans, and neither do the McCain supporters. So the only way out is to have unmoderated debate.

    Brian William from NBC is long known as a speaker for the Democratic party. Will that be fair to have a debate moderated by him? Absolutely not.

    CNN, see if you dare enough to publish this.

    June 8, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  7. AER

    John McCain is not George W. Bush, but unfortunately Barack Obama is Barack Obama.

    Hillary in 2012.

    June 8, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  8. magic

    I would hope someone will ask Obama the hard questions that can not be answered with slick slogans and catchy phrases. There is a need for clear and concise substance on major issues. Issues that the news media has allowed Obama to duck. No 1 is the socialist idea that bigger gov't is better gov't. He and Michelle have both stated publicly that those who have will have to learn to do with less so that those who have less can have more. Pure unadulterated socialism.
    No2 Who is going to pay for the parade of free programs that is nothing short of pandering to the electorate. There are some very unsettling parallels to the rise of the 3rd Reich and Hitler as someone who promised to have all the answers. His metoric rise to power brought devastating results to millions and affected the whole world.

    June 8, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  9. Old Artillery Man

    Obama supporters seem to have an attitude that us old, white, working men and women that do not have a college degree call looking down their nose at. They think that we must be brain dead because we cannot see Obama in all his glory. I have even seen here on CNN posts that we should not even be allowed to vote.

    Do you really think it is a good idea to keep on insulting us? Do you really realize that you are? Moreover, do you think he is going to win the GE without us?

    June 8, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  10. steve from NY

    To all women who vow to sit the election out, or vote McCain:

    You are reinforcing the "irrational" stereotype that strong women are trying to shake off.

    June 8, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  11. Anne

    Any woman who votes for Senator McCain is giving up the Right to Choose. That's his position, clearly stated, and as a person who fought for Choice, I shudder at the thought of returning to those terrible times.

    I am personally anti-abortion, but I will defend to the end a woman's right to make decisions about her own body.

    And, by the way, I don't want my grandsons fighting in Iraq.

    June 8, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  12. Emma, San Jose, CA

    To Hoang, UC Berkeley: Do the capital letters mean you are enraged?
    Your comment was identical to the one on the previous ticker. In capital letters!

    All of you folks who are going to write-in Clinton, or vote for McCain, or stay home and not vote, it is your choice, of course, but it seems you are
    acting in a self-defeating way. Is McCain's plan what you want for you and your children and grandchildren? Do you want your teenagers to do combat when they are old enough to enlist?

    June 8, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  13. Richard, FL


    Correction: you are not voting for a person, you are voting for an ADMINISTRATION. Unquestionably, Barack will appoint many of the same people Hillary would. If you want a continuation of Republican administration with the possible continued influence of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and all the other incompetents in Bush's circle, then don't vote Democratic.

    If you believe in Hillary's honesty and trust her, you will do as she wishes and prays for. Otherwise, you obviously don't trust her honesty or judgement.

    June 8, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. Ted:Canada

    Obama INGORE McCain!
    Don’t Agree to anything.
    Run the campaign as if he does not exist.
    You can marginalize him by not referring to him.
    Make the campaign about the “people” not the presidency!
    He doesn’t get it!
    The “movement” transcends a single person.
    The more he talks about himself and you the more the people will understand the notion of a need for real change.
    In short don’t play by the “old” political rules.
    Love – your friends in Canada

    June 8, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  15. Christian, Tampa FL

    I think everyone should stop being so negative. These town hall meetings have the potential to be wonderful, historic events that turn the election into an honorable contest of wits and issues. Granted, that sounds a bit unrealistic, but it could happen. At least the campaigns are agreeing on something.

    June 8, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  16. T. W.

    After the debacle of a debate with Stephanapolis and that other lame "moderator", McCain and Obama are correct in rejecting an ABC network hosted town hall.

    June 8, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  17. Mike, Vicksburg, MI

    Obama has as much experience as another man from Illinois had when he won the Republican nomination in 1860. He also was a relative unknown, had little managerial experience, little elective office experience, and won the nomination over several very well-known, albeit male, candidates who felt that they had a lock on the nomination. He was also much derided and, in fact, not only did his detractors threaten to not vote for him but also threatened to, and finally did, leave the union. Now, of course, we know how wrong everyone was but it wasn't known how great a strength of character and intellect this man had until he was in office and faced, with the wisdom and conviction he put forth during his campaign, the great trials of this office.

    It doesn't matter as much that you have experience to play the game but rather that when you play the game, you have the ability to do so well. I feel that we are to see greatness from this century's man from Illinois.

    June 8, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  18. Slider


    "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."

    In other words, "Senator Obama, let the people hear you speak without the aid of punditry, and other media types, do their best to clean up after your latest gaffe, and we'll do it in front of a live audience, not a media that is doing its best to get you elected."

    Sounds good to me.

    June 8, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  19. rima

    Some Republicans send negatives comments here trying to sow the seed of anger between Clinton and Obama supporters.Let's not fall in their trap.

    Democrats 2008

    June 8, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  20. RONNIE

    I was watching CNN and I didn't know McCain BROKE while a POW!
    He betrayed the USA to a enemy and confessed.Why is he running for President if he betrayed us?

    I am not saying I would hold up but I know that about myself and wouldn't ever serve if there was a chance I would betray my country to the enemy as John McCain did.

    McCain is considered a war hero for commiting treason while in uniform which doesn't surprise me since he is a republican.

    June 8, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  21. John

    What Hillary supporters should understand is that there was never any perfect candidate. There were, at best, flawed choices, the pool of which has been narrowed down the final 2. So if Hillary's supporters are so against Obama, they should answer the tough question – am I so against him as to be for McCain? Ask and answer the question honestly, looking beyond hurt feeling and bruised ego, to what each candidate stands for, to each candidate's strengths and flaws. And then choose between the remaining options.

    We like to talk about rights of a democracy. How little we talk about the accompanying responsibilities. America has winnowed its choices for president down to two. The responsible course of action is to chose between them.

    June 8, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  22. Sunburn

    Helen, he has experience. What's wrong with you? He was a professor at Northwestern, community organizer, Illinois state senate, and U.S. Senator. None of that matters though, because it's not about experience, it's about ideas and solutions. Show me the Constitutional document that says you need 20 years of government experience to run for office. There is none. You can be a farmer from Nebraska and be president. You just need lots of cash and good ideas for the country, and lots of people to listen to you. Guess what, Obama has all of those things. I am sorry you don't see the Fierce Urgency of Now why Obama is running for president. Or have you been asleep the last 7 1/2 years?

    June 8, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  23. Debbie

    Hillary may be loved by many women, but not everyone loves Hillary and believes she is the best person to be the President of the United States. Many Independants and Republicans would never vote for her. She be the "Great Woman's Hope" for many Democratic women, but Independent and Republican men and women young and old do not hold HIllary in the highest regard. She has to win the country. I believe more Republicans will vote for Obama. So for the few who won't vote for him, there are many who will take your place and will....
    Go Obama!

    June 8, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  24. What if?

    To Hoang, UC Berkeley......"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". Do you know how DUMB you sound?, it is a fact when you vote for a president it’s either a democrats or republicans party group. If anyone believe this stupid comment, I hope they find you when they can't afford gas, health care, lose love ones in this war and high food cost. Write Hillary name, but for us who needs financial help, we can’t ask her for any money, Hillary has millions, what do you have? I am a Obama supporters and yes if Hillary was the nominee I would vote for her in a second, she's DEMOCRATES- RIGHT...I AM A DEMOCRATE..................

    We the ones who are suffering from the Bush administration are getting tired of the voters who think it's all about THEM, when it should be about ALL of US. Some of us, voters have suffered the most, and we finally have a chance to get help from a demarcated president, you are going to block that. I considered myself as true democrats, because if Hillary would have won, as a Obama supporters would have thought of OTHERS WHILE I CASTED MY VOTE, and not pout because my choice of candidate didn‘t win. This thing were some of you say you will vote for McSame, to teach the DNC party or Obama a lesson. Please tell me how, with what your vote, our suffering, because after November they will still be able to AFFORD gas, make ENOUGH MONEY to survive any type of economy woes, still have JOBS to go to on a daily basis, continue to have MILLIONS of dollars in their accounts

    June 8, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  25. Bryan

    Campaigns talk about change and party sheep (Dems and Reps) eat it up like candy.

    The truth is that we are to lazy and content with moaning in corners, and listening to a lot of fantasies dreamed up by big money campaigns to see that nothing can be accomplish when you have a government run by the far left and far right.

    What have the Democrats done since they took a majority? Nothing. Do you know why? They can't.

    All I can hope is that one day, the press will come up with a way to give all real candidates a fair amount of attention, and that the folks that sit on the sidelines year after year (Independence) stand up and vote.

    With that said, there is only one independent running. Look at their records. And I do not mean just during the time that they have been trying to earn a BIG party endorsement. (The only way into the White House)

    There is nothing the same about McCain. The only true change candidate.

    June 8, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
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