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. Jason

    Only if Obama gets a teleprompter because without one he sounds like a big dolt.

    "Uh, um, games, you know, I um, ah"

    Obama/Carter '08

    June 10, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. Aubieof1

    You know it is pretty weak to keep talking to McCain as if he is President Bush. Each candidate should run on their own merits. Oh by the way has Obama said anything with any real substance?? All I heard is "we have to change" OK I'll bite what is he going to really do? So he talks well. What has he done in is past to show that he can back it up. By the way McCain does not automatically get my vote either, but one thing for sure it will not be Obama.

    June 10, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. rice, bryan

    ask him to spell it.

    June 10, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Cindy

    I'm kinda surprised that McCain is pushing this. Obama and McCain standing side by side will highlight their age differences, much like the Nixon/Kennedy televised debate did, 40 years ago. I guess maybe his intention is to show a stately father to immature son contrast? Or grandpa to grandson?

    It certainly didn't work for Nixon. But, whatever floats his boat.

    June 10, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. Karen, TN

    Emma, what's this about not needing "white folks" to decide about Obama's vice president? He appointed his own committee, and they are serving at the pleasure of a man who is 1/2 black. That ought to make you happy. He was voted for by millions of white people. Do you think he didn't need their votes? He couldn't have done it without any of us. You would do well to remember that. It's unfortunate that people feel the need to make statements like that. Regardless of the skin color of the person speaking, racism is wrong.

    June 10, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. jay from nc

    nobody wants to see mccain and nobody can stump like obama, so this strategy allows him to get the numbers to come out and prevents obama from doing his usual stumping routine

    June 10, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. Ralph

    You don't call the shots. You haven't a chance in Nov. Buh-bye.

    June 10, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. CCharles

    I think there might be some problems if you send both presumptive nominees of the two biggest parties in the same plane with each other – God forbid somehting happens – and voila we have a Green Party president or Bob Barr...Hmmm...a black woman and a white man – whichever way you shake this – this is gonna be a year of change!

    June 10, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. Independent (Ex-Democrat) in Iowa

    Whew!! You sure are dodging the bullet on this (umm.. well... ummm) one. Thank the good lord (and your reverends) you don't have to stand toe to toe with Hillary anymore! There must be a God out there protecting ya!

    June 10, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. Alan Boyer

    This guy is a joke. The worst communicator. How can he lead our nation and rebuild our posture around the world with weak communications skills. There will be more slips of the tongue. McCain really needs to back off the challenge to Obama about town hall meetings. The voters may be asking the questions, but McCain will struggle with being agile on his toes.

    June 10, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. CB

    Sounds like McCain just wants Obama to pay for his campaign too.

    June 10, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. MM in Minnesota

    Democrats...I'm writing for us specifically. McCain has had months to organize his campaign. We're just getting started. Obama does not need to cave in to pressure from McCain about these town hall meetings immediately. We have business to take care of that is much more immediate...like reuniting the Democratic party and organizing our general election campaign. Don't be too distracted by McCain...who is trying to distract us. There will be a time for debates, but that time is not right now.

    June 10, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    McCain said beer and you say that is an issue .

    Obama said that we have 57 states is that an issue?

    June 10, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. I used to be a Democrat

    I can't wait for John McCain to whip Obama's butt.

    June 10, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  15. jonny

    That is pretty lame that McCain is pretty much begging for Obama to agree to these town hall meetings – just because McCain can't afford to travel and campaign by himself. McCain is looking desperate.

    June 10, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. ItsObvious

    Obama should NOT debate McCane. It would be cruel and unusual because McCane would be unarmed in the match of wits.

    June 10, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. AZ602

    He doesn't have any cash for his campaign!!!! He wants as much free press as possible ..... Please! Gave it up!!!

    June 10, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. Obama-Junkie, IL

    Oh that trickey McCain and RNC! The McCain campaign has taken many notes from Hillary's campaign. Remember back in April when Hillary was challenging Obama to one debate per week in the effort to get free media time and keep Obama from active personal campaigning? Same with McCain .

    June 10, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  19. randy

    McCain is a prohibitionist. I will defend my Guinness at all costs.

    Dem '08

    June 10, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  20. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    So you say we should pull all troops from Iraq . When did we pull all troops from Germany. we still have troops in Germany .That helped to let them get moving on the tasks they needed to work on.

    The problem with what Obama wants is that all that we would have accomplished in Iraq will be lost to criminals and terrorists. Just look at Afghanistan. We freed them from the USSR and just left. the next thing to happen was the taliban came to town.Why do you think that we are their .

    June 10, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. Fight the liberal media!

    straight from Hillaryclinton.com


    by Vel at 6/7/2008 12:33:04 PM

    [Login or Create Account to Reply]
    We support you FOREVER!!!

    BUT we will NEVER support BO!!! He doesn't deserve it! He stole it!!! NEVER means NEVER!!!

    Also, we will FOREVER remember what BO, his nasty supporters, MSM, & the UNdemocratic DNC did in this election.

    McCain 08!!!

    Hillary 2012!!!

    by People at 6/7/2008 1:33:08 PM

    I love it! McCain has this wrapped up
    welcome former hillary supporters! together we will rid the US of abortion and homosexual marriage before our family structure crumbles!

    June 10, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. No McBush

    Just go to Showtime on demand and see/ or rent: Home Of The Brave, Three soldiers returning home to Spokane, Washington from the Iraq War find the adjustment back to normal life anything but smooth.

    The real victims here are the families and soldiers left to deal with the scars of WAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bring my brother home!!!!!!! I Support the troops, not the cause!

    June 10, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  23. Pat

    Bush and Cheney = War Criminals

    A vote for McCain = The same

    June 10, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  24. Blork

    hmmmm . . . I wrote a lenghty and objective post and it was listed as "being moderated" and now it's gone . . . CNN bias, no doubt . . .

    June 10, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. Bacusla

    To the guy/lady who claims he/she has not heard one policy statement from Obama; you've either selected not to hear Obama's policy ideas, or you're deaf.

    If you have not read about them, you might need to see an occulist (Eye Dr.) or even be illiterate. If you spell as poorly as to consider yourself a "DEMOCRATE" you have major problems.

    Final thought: This is the best of life & living in the U.S. – you're entitled to your fair share of the Right to Speak Freely or to abuse the freedom so to do.

    Obama does not need a lot of advise – he is doing just fine.


    June 10, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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