No Agreement on Obama-McCain Town Halls
By Juliet Eilperin
PEMBERTON, N.J. -- Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) failed to reach an agreement today on the idea of holding several unscripted joint appearances as part of their bid for the presidency this year.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe issued a statement today saying his candidate was willing to hold three traditional debates with McCain along with a joint town hall on the economy on July 4 and a separate debate on foreign policy in August.
"That package of five engagements would have been the most of any presidential campaign in the modern era -- offering a broad range of formats -- and representing a historic commitment to openness and transparency," Plouffe said. "It's disappointing that Senator McCain and his campaign decided to decline this proposal. Apparently they would rather contrive a political issue than foster a genuine discussion about the future of our country."
In a press conference this afternoon, the presumptive GOP nominee called the comments "a very disappointing response," questioning why Obama would want to hold a town hall event on the Fourth of July.
"We all know what Americans do on the Fourth of July," McCain said, adding that he would be willing to participate in "as many as ten" nationally-televised town hall meetings with Obama.
When it came to the competing debate proposals, he said, "I will leave it to the American people to decide" which one is preferable. He added he was willing to negotiate to some extent, "but I want the American people to have the exposure to a number of town hall meetings, not just one."
McCain added that two presidential libraries, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, have offered to host joint town hall meetings between the candidates.
"I've accepted," he said. "I hope that Senator Obama will do the same."
Most of the town hall meetings that McCain holds are dominated by GOP supporters. Thursday night's town hall meeting in New York City's Federal Hall was by invitation only, and was heavily-Republican.
According to a McCain aide, the New York Independence Party was given roughly 25 tickets, McCain's New Jersey campaign got 60, the New York City GOP received 10, a Staten Island community group got five and 10 were given to non-political New York groups. A few tickets went to Democrats supporting McCain, along with retired police officers and registered independents.
Posted at 2:41 PM ET on Jun 13, 2008
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