June 10th, 2008
12:53 PM ET
13 years ago

McCain pushes for town hall debates

CNN

Watch McCain's comments Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - John McCain continued his push for regular town hall-style debates with rival Barack Obama, raising the challenge again Tuesday as his campaign calls for as many as 10 face-offs this summer.

“As you know it has begun in earnest as you may have heard, Senator Obama and I might well be meeting soon in a series of town hall discussions,” McCain told business leaders gathered in the nation’s capital for the National Small Business Summit.

“Just the two of us, in direct conversation with voters. No need to turn it into a big media-run production with process questions from reporters, a spin room, and all the rest of it. Just to keep things friendly, I also suggested that my opponent and I travel to these town hall meetings together in the same plane. I promise not to try and fly it,” joked the Arizona senator. McCain, a naval aviator during the Vietnam War, was shot down and held captive for years.

“…We need the town hall meeting,” he added. “Let’s stop yelling at each other and let’s stop having sound bites and process questions and those things. The American people want a respectful and civilized discussion.”

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee is proposing ten town hall meetings - one each week between now and the Democratic Convention in late August. McCain proposes having a few hundred people at each, chosen by a non-partisan organization.

Shortly after McCain issued his latest challenge, Obama said he was on board – but that his involvement might fall short of the weekly meetings McCain has suggested.

“It's not realistic probably to do 10, given all the campaigning that I have to do since we just finished our primary season,” the Illinois senator told reporters in St. Louis, Missouri. “So it will probably be somewhat fewer than 10, but more than the 3 that have already been agreed to, and we’ll probably propose a mix of formats.”

The three that Obama referred to are the three debates this autumn announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. California Voter

    Obama would rather "preach" than talk to the voters and answer questions!!!

    June 10, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Dave in Atlanta

    He better not say anything about vetoing beer at a townhall meeting.

    June 10, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. Susan

    Wont' work McBush, your phoney smile and that evil glint in your eyes, not to mention your professed policies, will not get you in. You sir are a phoney. The only pocket you want ti fill is yours and your millionaire friends!! Obama 08!

    June 10, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. Obama v McCain

    spin spin spin lil'man.. maybe you could spin yarn into gold for me

    your going down!

    June 10, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. jeremy

    he should be careful of what he is asking for. obama is a much better speaker. mr. mccain is pretty stiff and not very eloquent.

    June 10, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Denial

    Mc Cain plz ........

    Why don't you go push for the Gimmick Gas Tax Holiday you resurrected ....

    Democrats 08!!!!!!!!!!

    June 10, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. Venus

    That's our man! Bam!!!!

    Way to go Obama! Don't let McBush call the shots!

    McBush had 4 months to campaign and you just finshed the primary!

    Let him keep calling for the debate... he needs cash and free air time!

    Also... let McBush continue on about the war... it's going to be his downfall......................................................................

    June 10, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. David in Illinois

    He'll veto every BEER!!!

    This must be the No. 1 issue at the first town hall meeting. How can he defend this policy statement?? 🙂

    Seriously, this is a HUGE flub! OK, Obama said there were 57 states, but he was at the end of a BRUTAL year-and-a-half primary campaign season, battling HIllary and Bill Clinton and the media nonstop!... he was rightfully exhausted. McCain has been on easy street since February... what made him so flustered, so flub-prone? Could it be his advanced age really IS an issue? No doubt about it. I question not only HIS judgment but his fitness for office. The issue must be raised.

    June 10, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. Dan, Pahiladelphia PA

    Does this mean that McCain is a reformed alcoholic Presidential hopeful or an Presidential hopeful that is an alcoholic? Hmmmm Those republicans got it all figured out............... N O T !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 10, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA

    MCLIER CAN PUSH FOR HIS GRANDMOTHER TO COME

    BACK TO LIFE, IF HE SO CHOOSES, THAT DOESN'T

    MEAN SHE WILL. IF I WERE OBAMA, I ABSOLUTELY

    WOULD NOT DO A THING THIS MAN ASKS. MCBUSH

    HAS TO DO HIS OWN CAMPAIGNING.

    THAT'S HOW ITS DONE.

    June 10, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. Maggie VT

    Mr. McCain,

    I don't think Senator Obama is going to fall in the same trap he did before. I would to see one town meeting.

    June 10, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  12. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Please Post:

    Lets talk about the economy and Bush/McCain and the GOP. The war in Iraq has done so much damage to our economy here in the US we have only begun to see the effects. If you think back to the before the McCain/Bush invasion of Iraq oil was trading around 25.00 a barrel. Now we are looking 150.00 a barrel before the end of summer.

    Some of you say this has nothing to do with the war in Iraq; lets play the blame game. Well lets follow the money shall we? With any crime that has been committed you have to find motive. Who has benefited most from this war in Iraq?

    A. Bush and Channey are two former oil executives and have friends in American Big Oil Companies; have they benefited?

    B. Big equipment and supply companies (i.e.) Halliburton; have they benefited?

    C. How about Iran, they more money now then they ever had; have they benefited?

    D. Saudi Arabia Bush begs them to produce more oil; have they benefited?

    E. Has Osama Bin Laden and Al Quida; have they received more money from the Saudi Arabians that secretly support them; have they benefited? Has he even been killed or captured? We found Hitler in a bunker are Bush/McCain and the GOP chicken s**t to go get this turd?

    F. The military industrial complex; have the benefited?

    G. Did Iran have a Nuclear Technology? have the benefited?

    I love America to much to Vote For McCain/Bush or thE GOP!

    Obama 08/12

    June 10, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  13. Dennis

    If I were Senator Obama, I'd make Senator McCain agree to do some traditional debates as well. Senator McCain is attempting to use these town hall debates to cover some of his weaknesses, including the disparity in fund raising capabilities and the disparity in their public speaking skills.

    June 10, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  14. David Goldman for OBAMA

    O YEA, MCBUSH THINKS HE IS GOING TO GET SOME

    HELP IN LOOKING PRESIDENTIAL. HE SPENT MILLIONS

    OF OUR DOLLARS TRYING TO DO JUST THAT, ON HIS

    WORLD WIND TRIP, & IT DID NOT WORK. BUT THAT

    BEER VETO SHOULD HELP? AIN'T GETTING ANY HELP

    FROM SEN.OBAMA.

    June 10, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. Obama for the Earth!!!!!!!!

    Bring it on .... McCain will flip,flop, bumble, stumble and fall victim to Obama's superior skills as an orator and leader.

    June 10, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. SANAA

    WHY?????????
    SO HE CAN TALK ABOUT A BEER VETO?????????/

    OBAMA 08

    June 10, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. TESAP

    ???????? McCain is afraid of big crowds, loud music and cameras???? why????

    I tink there should be 5 townhall debates and 5 debates of Obama's choosing, either way McCain will lose.... He is a horrible speaker, and has a bad temper............. he does not like to be confronted or questioned..............

    I say bring it on............ Mr Magoo............

    June 10, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. Chuck, Democrats United We Stand

    And you are looking for free air time. McCain critizes Obama for his economic ideas, yet he has not produced any thing other than his continued pandering of a federal gas tax holiday. American's know that this will do nothing for the economy. We could not afford $3.50 a gallon so now you want to lower my gas from $4.19 to $4.00 a gallon (oregon). Those of us that live on a fixed income will not be helped one little bit as we can not afford to drive, I started walking at $3.35 a gallon except on real bad weather days and then I did not go anywhere unless it was an absolute necissity. I challange McCain to present a real economic plan that will help America.
    Lastly, it is an unfortunate issue, but inorder to dig our selfs out of the debt that has resulted during the past 24 years, we will have to have higher taxes, otherwise it will only become worse. I can tighten my belt a little if it is necessary "IF" these outrageous costs come down some.

    June 10, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. Chris

    If this crazy man was smart he would not want to do these debates.
    The format that he wants will easily show Americans that McCain is a loose cannon ready to exploded.
    We all know about that temper of his and with Obama now the nominee, he will really be relaxed and say something that will just tick the old man off!!! LOL

    June 10, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  20. Emma

    This is something John McCain needs, not Senator Obama. Senator McCain does not have the right to decide on town hall meetings as the only forum to bring discussions to the voters.

    Let's see some debates between the two nominees. I believe John McCain's temper will surely rise to the surface when he is faced with a one-on-one debate.

    By the way, Senator Obama has the right to choose his own VP. Why should white folks decide for him, this remind me of the old south when white people supposedly took care of their black workers. After all, black folks could not be trusted to make the right decision. He is the nominee, not white America.

    June 10, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. Mark Kahle

    Actually California Voter, your wrong, Barack has actually pushed for LONGER town halls, with LESS Moderation, to speak to the voters themselves...

    get your facts straight..

    Secondly its a bit early for town hall meetings, as the conventions have not been completed, nor has any VP's been selected...

    Once that is done, then I am sure he will welcome them, since obviously you do not have a clue once again, and realize Barack Obama stated the need for townhall meetings BEFORE John McCain..

    Lastly, the last thing you want to do is have your candidate John McCain talking in a town hall anyways... he is NOT a good speaker...and has a bit of memory loss

    June 10, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  22. David Goldman for OBAMA

    ONLY IF HE PROMISES NOT TO VETO BEER.

    June 10, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  23. ALLBAMALLTHETIME

    Shush! Obama is perfectly comfortable in either setting–but he will not be bullied or tricked by McCain into a dog-fight in a unfriendly forum!!!

    June 10, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. skunkrat The Marine

    Town hall meetings will be a waste of time with McSame. The man is an IDIOT, He can't even read.

    June 10, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. STILL BROKE~

    I AM AN EX DEMOCRATE. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THIS DEBATE, MANY OF THEM. SENATOR OBAMA IS A WONDERFUL ORATOR, BUT I HAVENT HEARD A CONCRETE PLAN OUT OF HIS MOUTH. ALL HIS QUESTIONS IN THE PAST DEBATES WERE SOFT BALL QUESTIONS. HE HAS NOT BEEN VETTED, THIS SHOULD BE INTERESTING. CANT WAIT TO SEE HIM DEBATE.

    June 10, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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