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

McCain pushes for town hall debates


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. Shelly in IL

    He should not want a bigger audience to look foolish in front of! McCain knows nothing about anything eccept war!

    June 10, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  2. Debby

    I like this idea of McCains and also the idea of Obama going to Iraq. Not that he has won the nomination there is no reason for Obama to take a trip over there to see whats going on before the general.

    June 10, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Jim Doogan

    The McCain campaign understands that McCain cannot outspeak Barack, so they want McCain to dictate how to speak to people. it seems like he is more comfortable talking to 5 or 10 people at a time, than 40,000. That speach he gave on the night Obama clinched the nomination was worse than a 5th grader reciting lines in a school play. The only thing their campaign did right was hide the strings they were using to control him. By August, it should be very clear that McCain isn't up to this President gig. i respect his service to our great nation, both on and off the battlefield, but he's not built for the President's postion. No disrespect.

    June 10, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Lilac

    Obama, afraid of McCain? The very idea is laughable. I hope they do conduct town hall debates because I know McCain will fail miserably against Obama, and he will be the victim of his own dirty game.

    June 10, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |

    As a 47 year old life long Republican I can't for the life of me figure out why people would support John MCain. I lost all respect for the man after seeing him pandering to groups all over the country. I look at him and I see my grandfather's generation which I sometimes think it might have been fun to live back then but I don't think we want that past world guiding our country at this time. I think as each word-twisting, fear mongering, hate filled garbage comes out of the Republicans, it drives me closer to Obama. I've never in my life given a dime to a politican but I have donated to the Obama campaign 3 times now. Like I said, I don't follow why people think now is the time for the status quo or voting in a bizzaro 3rd Bush term who drives me insane every time he says 'My friends'.. and he says that a lot.

    June 10, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Obama!!

    I agree with this idea, but there is danger for both candidates. We don't need voters asking pointless questions (about flag lapel pins, questions about their wives, questions about Hagee or Wright, etc.). When you leave the questions to ordinary citizens, you run the risk of the content of the debate veering off into meaningless distractions. We don't need to waste time on that.

    Let's do the town hall debates, but let facilitators filter the questions from the audience. Then again, both sides would cry foul if they felt their candidate's questions were unfair.

    June 10, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. DJ, LA, CA

    No Marc in VA – guess again. McCain is desperate because he can't debate. He has to rely on townhalls because that is the only way he can face Obama without looking bad.

    Besides Obama is not obligated to do anything on McCain's terms....let alone do anything to help McCain.

    June 10, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. unions are not stupid

    well I see these republican trolls are at it today still trying to stir up division in the democratic party sad the only way they win elections is on lies and trickery not on facts on issues. Very sad that the Christian front aligns themselves with the party that is pro war and pro propaganda

    June 10, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. Gary in VA

    I think it would be a sad day in history for McCain. He should really be careful what he asks for. It would be like a walk in the park for Sen. Obama.

    June 10, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. Axis of Evil - OBAMA

    Why does he act like he is GOD. Obama has been thinking he is so untouchable! UGGG

    June 10, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |

    Republicans Block Extra Taxes On Oil Companies

    YES....THEY......CAN !!!! (continue to look out for big business while shafting you)

    Any vote for any republican is just beyond me....

    time after time..... they show you who they are.... when they do...


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans blocked a proposal Tuesday to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies, despite pleas by Democratic leaders to use the measure to address America's anger over $4 a gallon gasoline.

    June 10, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    I think the debates would be good for voters. It remains to be seen which candidate would benefit the most, be it exposure or format.

    I think McCain should back away from the longer format because that will favor Obama. That gives Barack the chance to orate.

    Obama should back away from the longer schedule. That gives John the free public exposure he needs with his smaller budget.

    June 10, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. hillary suporters for obama

    oh right your'e going down

    June 10, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |

    Marc–you are dumb! Why would Obama fear debating DG McSane in a townhall meeting? He is the best orator alive and McSane is a bumbling idiot who cannot even stay focused on tying his shoes. You are a Rethuglican and fear McSane getting THUMPED by the BAM; you will be crying in the corner as McSane get THUMPED and backed into dirty corners that he will not be able to fight his way our of with the intelligence and savvy of BAM BAM! Rubbish and Hogwash is the best that you can offer. You will be rocking in a corner and sucking your thumb when your boy get his shirt handed to him. Another thing–don't tell people that you are form VA, either–you make us look bad!

    June 10, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Quinn

    Looks like John McCain is having trouble attracting the under 90 crowd to his events.

    Live...Friday Night, June 27th
    At the Johnson High School Auditorium...right next to Piggly Wiggly
    The GOP proudy presents...
    John McCain
    with special guest...Barack Obama!

    Get your tickets NOW!

    June 10, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    Hope the first debate is in Milwaukee. That way Senator McCain can explain why he would veto beer, along with any legislation to tax the oil companies' obscene profits.

    June 10, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Crush Rush

    Well, lets just cut to the chase and have a good ole Zell Miller style duel.They could have it at night, wearing night vision goggles for extra excitement.

    June 10, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    June 10, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. MJAMES

    ;nick' , your comments make you look just like the word that rhymes with your name and starts with 'D'. First you make a strange unfounded comment about what Obama will do as president and then you turn around and question or ask for proof McOld is a Bush 3rd term. You can't spew out nonsense about Obama that is totally non-factual, and then say that what Obama says is not factual. Hippo-crite u r. (yes, I spelled it wrong on purpose)

    Republicans for Obama! (able to see through the years of lies and fear mongering)

    June 10, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    As for the real issues that need to be debated, economics, economics, war, war. Neither candidate should go for style points.

    McCain just might get burned by the young senator because I would have to give the nod to Barack on eloquence.

    Obama just might get burned by the senior senator because I would give the nod to John on a "slugfest" argument.

    June 10, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. Mauricio Galvao Anderson - Atibaia - SP

    The $3 dollar bill is restless. He should indeed. The $3 says a lot about country security and blah, blah, blah. Is US safer today than say 10 years ago? Well, you all have the answer. Is the peaple better off today than 10 years ago? Well, you have the answer... The $3 doesnt have a single idea after all those years in Washington. And come with summer gas tax break? Gives us a break will you?

    June 10, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. IAMWMD

    Careful what you ask for Grandpa

    June 10, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  23. McCain=the draft

    McBush, The only place you should be going is the dementia ward.

    June 10, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. ANGIE

    hey nick you want evidence that mccain is bush third term go look at his voting record he never opposed anything of bush only supported him the only thing mccain is gonna do better than bush is run this country futher in the ground MCCAIN IS A JOKE AND HE IS BUSH 3RD TERM MY FRIEND!!!!!!!!! NO MCAIN NOT NOW NOT EVER!!!!!!!!!!

    June 10, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. carmen

    My friends, who is yelling, except an old man at the clouds?

    June 10, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10