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. Cindy in Boston

    We need a national debate not town hall meeting debate to be televise by all networks. I am convined Obama will disgrace you in debate .

    June 10, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Victor in Saanich, B.C. Canada

    Best two out of three?? Okay best four out of seven? Okay best seven
    out of thirteen??
    Debates, yes but within reason!! The issues get lost in sound bites and as we have seen, the moderators are sometimes blatantly one sided and this denigrates the affair. The audience can also be hostile to one candidate as well, for the most part, and this can be misinterpreted!!

    June 10, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. ANGIE

    why does mccain only want town hall meetings well for one they are cheaper for 2 he sucks at his speeches and maybe he knows 85% of people are for obama and he wont be able to win obama in his debates because he is an idiot i think obama should do a few townhall debates and then mccain should do a few public debates

    June 10, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. Bjoerlingfan

    Town hall debates are a great idea, but no way is Obama going to do 10–that's insane. With 10 debates the only one who would benifit would be McCain. One debate per week amounts to 2 things for McCain: (1) free air time, as his campaign can't compete with Obama's finacially, and (2) to tie up Obama's campaign schedule, making it harder for him to gain headway in key battleground states.

    There will be plenty of time for debates in the fall. I'd say 3-5 town hall debates would be sufficient, but no more. McCain's trying early to control the race.

    June 10, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. the obvious

    I think this is necessary. What is Obama afraid of?

    June 10, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. 58 old white ladies for OBAMA

    SINCE MCMOULD CAN'T EVEN STAY ON POINT

    OR AWAKE, HE WANTS TO HAVE A TOWN HALL

    MEETING, SO HE CAN RANT & RAVE.

    June 10, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. Austin

    McCain's only doing this because he knows it will help even the money gap between his campaign and Obama's. McCain's running WAY behind on that front, and this is the only way he can think to counteract it. If Obama's smart, he'll see through this and maybe agree to one.

    June 10, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. Billy from Fl

    Obama cannot debate or do a town hall meeting without someone there telling him what to say or writing his speeches.

    You saw the disaster when he had debates with Clinton, he made a
    fool out of himself

    June 10, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. KMAN

    McCain will need Obama with him just to keep the audiences awake! He is the worst example of a 'would be' leader and orator since Bush!!

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

    OBAMA WON'T DEBATE !! YOU ALL SAW HOW SCARED HE WAS WITH HILLARY!!

    HILLARY SUPPORTER
    MCCAIN 08

    June 10, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. Justin

    Veto beer, the source of McCain's fortune. LOL

    June 10, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Give it up!!! It didn't work for Sen. Clinton, so i would recommend a new approach.....like something neutral....give us a break.....the average American would not agree to a senerio that favors one and not the other......

    June 10, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. Lex

    McCain better be careful what he wishes for, I really don't think it's in his best interest to stand on the same stage and go toe to toe with Obama, who's got it all over McCain. Not only in 'style' but in 'substance' as well.! Look at what happened to Nixon in his debate with Kennedy, and the first G.W. Bush in his town hall style meeting with Clinton. (Remember Bush looking at his watch, he couldn't wait to get out of there). I predict the same with McCain!

    June 10, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. CW4Barak

    Be careful what you wish for old man....unlike you, Obama has gotten a lot of practice with debates....don't use the last "attack Obama on behalf of Billary" ABC debackle as a judge....he will talk circles around you and show America the real contrast of something new, fresh and hopeful as opposed to something old, stale and hopeless!!

    Obama '08!

    June 10, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. miko kansas city

    Old man trying to play dirty old games. I can't believe he wants to have town halls with Obama. I can see myself falling asleep each time he speaks and awaken each time Obama speaks. I don't think that would be wise of him but let him put the nail in his own coffin if that is what he wishes. Obama will blow him out of the water!! this is going to be good!!

    June 10, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. If not Hillary....then McCain

    Of course Obama will not want to do these...he is very weak off the cuff and in small settings. He needs a revival atmosphere complete with plants and a telepromter loaded with written speech to maintain his fake persona. Incidently CNN, speaking of large crowds, why did I never see any mention that the 75,000 crowd in Oregon was there for a music festival and Obama was only the half-time intermission speaker. False advertising at it's best.

    Also, I have posted many times this week and all of my posts end up in lala land, not even being moderated....any explanation for this>

    June 10, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. Kenneth

    He should go for the town hall meetings but not ten and do not go together it would seen like a wiser man taking a kid under his wing.

    June 10, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Breaker

    McSame is a joker and an old sick man and that 's why republicans disguising themselves as former clinton supporters.

    They have no solid argument. Don't get fooled by thoses morons democrats.

    No for a 3rd term of Bush.

    Only Obama will bring true changes.

    June 10, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. Sebastian

    John –

    I know you've pushed for these because you don't have sufficeint FINANCIAL backing from DEEP POCKETED, FAT CAT republicans to fund your television commercials and you see this as a way to get the networks to put you on for free ... and ....

    Team Obama will agree to have these but first they've got some pressing business to attend to ....

    Since you've had free reign for about 2 months to talk about how "Niaeve and Reckless" Mr. Obama is, about how eloquent he is at a teleprompter ....

    the Senator from Illinois wants to put out his positions on the Economy, Iraq, & Healthcare Insurance ....

    so that the American People can think about them before the two of you have 4 or 5 conversations ...

    Now, doesn't that sound like a good idea?

    June 10, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  20. cbenji in NYC

    mccain knows this is the only way to draw large crowds. unfortunately for him they will probably all be there for obama. i've heard town hall meetings are mccain's strong point (because he is awful at reading teleprompters and giving speeches) so this is probably why he's pushing so hard for this type of forum... but then again Obama always seems to be ten steps ahead with his campaign so i'm sure he has a plan to win these.

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

    Barack should do things on him own terms...The poeple know and understand this...we don't have to do things just because McCain (The same as Bush) would like us to.

    June 10, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  22. nick

    LEAVE MCCAIN ALONE. YOU ACT AS IF HE IS NOT A VERY EXPERIENCED CANDIDATE, HECK HES GOT 18 PLUS YEARS OVER , THE JUST STARTING SENATOR OBAMA. SOME OF YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT, LIKE SOMEONE ELSE SAID YOU ARE VOTING FOR A CANDIDATE NOT A PARTY! KEEP THAT IN MIND, DONT JUST VOTE FOR OBAMA BECAUSE HES A DEMOCRAT AND YOUR A DEMOCRAT AND YOU WANTED CLINTON TO WIN, BUT SHE GOT OUT, BUT VOTE FOR THE PERSON YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE PRES. NOT THE PARTY. WHO CARES IF YOUR A DEM. THAT DOESNT MEAN YOU NEED TO VOTE FOR OBAMA BECAUSE HES A DEM. I MEAN COMEON PUT THE 2 TOGETHER AND SEE WHICH ONE IS BETTER FOR YOU.

    IF YOU WANT TO HAVE OBAMA, THEN JUST THINK OK: HIGHER TAXES, A DISARMED NATION, AND BROKEN PROMISES.

    BUT MCCAIN WILL GIVE YOU BETTER: AND YOU KNOW WHATS ANNOYING ALL OBAMA SAYS IS MCCAIN IS A 3RD BUSH TERM, WHY CANT HE GIVE HIS EVIDENCE OF WHY THIS IS TRUE? HE WONT DO THAT INSTEAD HE JUST REPEATS THE SAME THING OVER AGAIN JUST TO GET MORE VOTES. HES DESPICABLE!

    June 10, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. Tully

    i think this is a good idea. Let the candidates answer direct questions from the american people. Let the questions be dissected by McCain and Obama. This is an extremely important election and should be treated as such.

    June 10, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  24. Michelle

    Come on, now.

    Barack doesn't want to break out of his protective bubble.

    He just wants to chant his way to the White House.

    Up close with American citizens with real questions? No teleprompter? No prepared speeches and scripted answers?
    All by himself? No media cushion?

    Telling citizens what he will do and how?

    Barack will bail.

    June 10, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  25. gary

    OBAMA IS NO GOOD AT DEBATES WITHOUT FOLLOWING HRC AND COPYING HER ISSUES. HE CANT THINK ORIGINAL WITHOUT STUTTERING. HE ONLY KNOWS HOW TO GIVE A GREAT EMPTY SPEECH ,THAT IS WROTE FOR HIM. JUDGEMENT O.B. DOES NOT HAVE. HE SCREWED UP BY BUYING THIS RACE AND TRYING TO MAKE HRC A WHITE SLAVE FOR HER VOTES. B.S. HIS HATERS DONE ENOUGH TO THE CLINTONS ND HER SUPPORTERS. NOW HE HAS TO EARN EVERYTHING FROM HERE ON. HIS RACE IS WHAT DECIDED THE DNC TO HAND THIS RACE TO HIM. AFRAID OF ALL THE RACIST THREATS. WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY IS THIS. O.B. HAS PUT US BACK 100YRS. OR MORE HATE,RACIST, AND DIVISION. DONT YOU LOVE HIS CHNGE. AMERICA GETS WHAT THEY ASK FOR. CONCERNED VIET NAM VET

    June 10, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
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