June 25th, 2008
03:05 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain fills town halls with undecided voters

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/13/art.mccain.6.13.jpg caption=" Sen. McCain is keeping his promise to hold several town hall events."]
(CNN)—Sen. John McCain’s campaign is moving ahead with its plans for a weekly town hall debate even though rival Sen. Barack Obama declined the invitation, but the Arizona senator isn’t taking the easy way out - he’s filling his audience with undecided voters.

“We are looking to appeal to people to come to our town halls who have yet to make up their mind. And are not affiliated with either party,” McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds told CNN.

Watch: What are McCain and Obama's town hall styles?

To do so, the campaign hired Direct Response Group of Phoenix to reach out to specific communities in search of those undecided, unaffiliated voters who are interested in attending the event.

Unlike some presidential candidates of the past, the goal is to create a forum where the audience is not hand picked so that “everyday Americans are able to ask the serious questions, instead of staged, controlled events,” said Bounds.

The McCain’s campaign plans to pay the organization between $8,000 and $10,000 for a town hall once a week leading up to the convention.

The audiences are filled with 150 to 300 undecided voters with the exception of a few “key supporters,” and local public officials who have endorsed the Arizona senators presidential bid.

Thus far, the audience response has been positive and many of the ideas from voters have been directly incorporated into the campaign Bounds said.

“We get tough questions, but he enjoys it,” Bounds said of McCain “It’s an opportunity for him to actually hear what people are thinking and to respond.”

Bounds also said the offer remains open to the presumptive Democratic nominee.

“We have every expectation that when Barack Obama is interested in elevating the debate, he will join us on the campaign trail,” he said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (190 Responses)
  1. Hannah

    By the way, Patrick–I have seen every one of Obama's speeches and I cannot recall a single one where the man used a teleprompter–or even his notes. Educate yourself!

    June 25, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  2. heather

    I think it is absurd that Mccain is attempting to fix the energy problem by relying on yet another NON-RENEWABLE energy source. Nuclear power plants use large amounts of uranium – a non-renewable natural resource that requires vast amounts of energy to mine. Nuclear power plants are an expensive short term fix for a long term problem. The only real solution can be a renewable form of energy.

    June 25, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. chetan

    Good intention or good speech does not mean anything until you have enough administrative expertise to translate it into reality. Obama does not have any past visible records which suggest that he is good administrator.

    June 25, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  4. heather

    Big Sal, you need to educate yourself on the issues. Please explain to me how voting for Obama will increase energy prices. If you think that Mccain's offshore drilling will lower the cost of oil by any significant amount perhaps you should do some reading on this issue that doesn't come from the Mccain website!!

    June 25, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  5. Blinded by the Lie

    You mean to tell me that 150-300 people is all Mc Same can do? Obama can draw crowds of about 75,000...now that's a town hall meeting..

    June 25, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  6. Earl

    I don't believe the headline


    I watched it...there weren't 50 people there, it was more like the basement of a Senior Citizens Hall.

    FILLS my fat butt...my living room is bigger.

    June 25, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  7. Wingit

    McCain considers his campaign rallys as "town hall meetings". They are nothing more than McCain taking questions from his planted supporters. There probably won't be any "town hall meetings" if they are run by his rules.
    Still waiting for McCain to rent a big venue and make a speech to the nation. What, no money? What, no one to fill the seats?

    June 25, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  8. Walt

    What exactly is the point of these CNN comment sections? It seem like a place for a lot of strange individuals to make slanderous comments and call names that have nothing at all to do with either the election or rational discussion of substantive issues. What a waste of time!

    June 25, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  9. Obama08

    Yeah right...."a few key supporters". You make me laugh Mcsame...you expect anyone to actually fall for this line of b/s????

    June 25, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  10. Justice League

    When McCain can fill a football stadium of more than 60,000, then I'll be impressed. When you need all the turn-out you can get to bolster support, small meetings at the American Legion won't get you very far.

    June 25, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  11. Tony, Miami

    You take the habit not to publish my comments even when I am posting among the first ones. Should I use a set of bad words or a vulgar language to be published like a lot of commetators? Is it what you really want CNN

    June 25, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  12. Michael

    All that really gets written is how someone likes Obama or how someone likes McCain... but what about the issues? I will vote for John McCain because I've yet to hear exactly what Obama will do to make our lives better.

    As someone that works, I'd rather pay less taxes to support those who didn't work hard in school and make sacrifices to obtain a career. Why is this a bad thing? Why shouldn't people have to work hard to be successful? If you don't have to work and you can still be supported, why wouldn't someone do that? Our society can never succeed until we make it a little harder to be lazy.

    And honestly, whether or not your agree with the war in Iraq, who honestly is better equipped to handle the situation as is now? Obama or McCain? There's no basis for Obama to be the answer to that question. McCain is military and he's been on the dark side of war (5 1/2 years as a POW). Who do you think will really care about the well-being of our soldiers in the Middle East? If you're brother/sister/father/mother was a prisoner in Iraq, who do you think would try hardest to help them get back home?

    Can anyone say something pro-Obama that isn't just anti-McCain or just useless rhetoric? Say something with substance that's pro-Obama!

    June 25, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  13. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    Poooooorrr Mccain!

    June 25, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  14. Tim, Hershey,PA

    The more I see of Obama, the more I believe he is the most cocky, left-leaning liberal I've ever seen. The way he holds his head up in the air just leaves me to believe that he is so full of himself, it's not even funny. I hope America wakes ups in time and realizes this guy is not right for our country during these dangerous times. He talks about withdrawing from Iraq; but never talks about the aftermath that would happen. Iran would invade when the civil war gets too bloody just like Syria did after Lebanon in the 80's. If you think gas is high now.
    We need a strong leader who will know how to balance the stick and the carrot. Barack seems to want to please everybody. You can't do that with countries like Iran or Syria. He says,"I can get the independent and conservatives to vote for me!" Idon't see how given his liberal voting record(what record does he have?). America has a difficult choice to make and I think the'll come to their senses. We need change but Obama is not it. McCain will guide us through these tough times by being tough on terrorism and disciplined with our budget.

    June 25, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  15. FAIR and SQUARE!!!

    Voter ..................Qbama avoided the town halls for the same reason he avoided another debate with Hillary. The polls showed him LOSING every debate.................MCSAME REQUESTED THE TOWN HALL while he was on the campaign trail.........HE was not man enough to make proper contact and discuss and agree or not ........
    McSAME.....Can't say JUMP and Obama say how high! .........besides on his TURF he would plant people like you to ask ?S........The older he gets the worse he becomes.

    June 25, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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