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. Dan Lee

    Any political junkie knows that the only reason McBush wants those town hall meetings is to get in the air with Obama for free. He sure as hell does not have the money to fight Obama in all those swing states...and McBush's team also think that this these kind of debates are to his advantage since Obama is not that great of a debater. None the less I hope Obama agrees to those debate , just the idea of seeing this young vibrant guy dueling it out with this old tired senille man will be a great positive and advantage for Obama.

    June 10, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  2. John Smith

    This will help McCain, just in case he gets a "heart attack" in the process. There will be plenty of people to help him to the ER room in time. Think of all the Obama folks who will be there, and are very sympathetic!

    So, for health reasons, Obama should probably accept only 1-2 of these to helo MCain out! Otherwise, I see no use for such a process.

    Given that these guys generall get "older very fast" when they are in office, who would want to get MCain to the Oval Office and risk the prospect of an aging president!

    June 10, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Paul F

    The most obvious thing I see reading the responses is that the democrats responding are in large part quite demeaning and nasty. I don't think that is much of a formula for success.

    I don't particularly care for Sen. McCain's politics, but I do admire his commitment to the US through his life and good character. He is not a real conservative, so I worry he will be another Bush, whom I also have not cared for as a President.

    Sen. McCain asks: "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.”

    So please show a little respect and be civilized, our society has tolerated for far to long the nasty vitriolic behavior of a few but vocal group on all sides.

    June 10, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. Axis of Evil - McCain - Bush - Cheney

    Sorry, but if you want your rights and money to go to Iraq. Vote for McCheney.

    Name the new permanent base in Iraq after John McWar.

    Make Cheney even richer. Go Haliburton 100 more years!!!

    Love your country, then don't make a McStake!


    June 10, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. John

    A moderator is needed for McFlip-flopper who will ask direct questions where he is forced to give a valid answer not Republican talking points...With no moderator the candidate can easily ignore the question he chooses not to answer or attack the questioneer by name calling (liberal, tax & spend) personal attacks. With a moderator each candidate would be forced to answer the question or have to deal with the same question in each debate until he answers the question.

    June 10, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. Will in Richmond, VA

    I'm all for it.

    It will be extremely compelling. Be careful what you wish for Mr. "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran". Prepare for surgical dissection.

    June 10, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  7. After further review,Texas

    Just like those friendly fireside chats where we were told there wouldnt be any new taxes,two chickens in every pot and enough gas in every car to go to the moon and back.How quaint and loving.

    June 10, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. Asian4Hillary

    NONAME will NEVER accept Townhall meeting with Senator McCain, he is a TELEPROMPTER READER. As long as there's a script, NONAME is excellent. McCain is very good with Townhall meetings, he talks from his heart, based on experience as US Senator for a number of years. NONAME was only 5 months US Senator and start running for President. He devoted his time while US Senator travelling all over the US promoting two books he wrote.

    June 10, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. Down with Obama

    Go get him McCain!!!

    From a democrat that will be voting for McCain in November.....amoung millions of others....we will probably be known as the McCain democrats...or PUMA DEMOCRATS

    June 10, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  10. TESAP


    June 10, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Happily Independent

    I want to see town hall debates and other debates as well. The majority of the debates could be town hall style, but traditional debates as well. Not only should the candidates be able to talk directly to U.S citizens but they are going to have to deal with the press and questions from the press when they are president. I want to be able to just them in that setting as well. All debates should be aired on all of the networks. There should be a panel of moderators from one or two from each network: Fox News Channel, CNN, NBC, CBS News, MSNBC, ABC News, and PBS. I believe to capture the voice of young people their should be a town hall debate with college students on MTV as well. Also, a traditional debate combined with video questions from viewers as well as internet questions from viewers. Also, a debate set up like a press conference. McCain and Obama have to answer the questions from a room full of reporters.

    June 10, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. oil rules

    If there is no teleprompt, Nobama is in serious trouble. Unless, of course, he just chants change, change, change....Hopefully if his asthma attacks he won't need his 'breathalyzer' or 'inhalator'.....I'm sure everyone already knows about that gaffe without his prompter.....I don't know who is OLD enough to remember, but we really can't stand Carter's second term.

    Obama/Carter 08

    June 10, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  13. donna4hillary


    i have a relative who is an alcoholic and he also repeats everything...

    June 10, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. 58 old white ladies for OBAMA




    June 10, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. aaron from minneapolis

    Anyone who believes McCain is centered and not far right is being fooled. He's not even close to Hillary on the issues who is centered. If some Hillary supporters vote for McCain then I hope you've got a great job with good pay otherwise good luck making it to 2013. You're going to need it.

    June 10, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. Crush Rush

    Just ignore the "new" little man behind the curtain kids.He wants to scare you but he will be out of your dreams in november.

    June 10, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. A vote for McCain and Cheney RICH!!!

    Halliburton, Cheney's sweet love child, is ROBBING the American people.

    Halliburton for McCain

    June 10, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  18. Gary Chandler in Canada

    @ Marc,
    A few weeks ago, on public TV, Obama challenged McCain (and Bush) to a debate on Iraq and foreign policy. They never accepted the challenge. cluck cluck cluck

    June 10, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  19. K

    It's amazing how the two of them can agree to act mature and treat each other in a civilized way, but Obama's supporters on these blogs cannot. You all truly amaze me at the lengths you will go to belittle and ridicule those running for office and anyone, in general, who does not agree with you.
    Mature and civilized are definitely not the first words that come to mind when I see your remarks. It's not wonder our society is in the shape that it is in. When I read the rotten things a lot of you say, it all makes sense how dozens of people can walk by a person hit by a car and not render aid...makes me sad to live in a country with such mean-spirited people. I'm a Republican, but I can appreciate what Mrs. Obama has said...America really is a mean country!

    June 10, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. Former Republican voting for Obama

    McSame will forget he made this agreement like he was caught on video saying the media was bias to Hillary and then denied it.

    "Its the Economy, Stupid"

    Obama 08

    June 10, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  21. Cynthia

    Interesting questions asked by Captain Smash – would like to know the answers also.

    June 10, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  22. Axis of Evil - Bush - Cheney - McCain

    Cheney wants McCain for President. Cheney LOVES baby Bush's tax cuts.

    Let's make Cheney rich with OUR MONEY.

    Vote for McCain is a Vote for Cheney.

    Wake up!!!

    June 10, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  23. julie mn

    Obama will never agree, he knows his lies are all neat on paper, but he forgets which country hes for when debating. poor man !!!!!!

    June 10, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  24. Pete

    McCain the ultimate baboon! Bush & McCain policies no more.....UNLESS he vetos beer!

    June 10, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  25. Tommy

    Headlines after the 1st debate:





    June 10, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
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