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Weekend Wag the Blog: Town Hall Tussle

Right after Barack Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination early this month, John McCain proposed that the two party standardbearers meet in ten town hall meetings to give the voters a close-up look at the two men.

Obama, whose campaign said he would be open to more debates than the three currently on the books, came back with a counter-offer. A town hall on the economy on July 4 and then a foreign policy-focused affair in August.

And then the politics arrived.

McCain condemned Obama's counter as a "very disappointing response" and added that his goal was to have "the American people to have the exposure to a number of town hall meetings, not just one." He went forward with the first proposed joint town hall meeting on Thursday in New York City -- an event covered live by Fox News Channel. "I think this town hall meeting would have been a little more interesting if Senator Obama had accepted my request," McCain said. "I think Americans are tired of the spin rooms, they're tired of the sound bites. ... I strongly urge (Obama) to do this."

David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, responded in kind. "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," said Plouffe. "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."

With the two campaigns at an impasse, now seems a good time to explore the town hall meeting idea further.

There's little question that town halls are McCain's best forum. He built his comeback in this campaign around town halls in New Hampshire where he invited attendees to ask whatever was on their minds and largely (and uncharacteristically for a politician) answered the questions asked.

Obama has far less experience than McCain with town hall formats, having tended to use large rallies and "big" speeches to secure the Democratic nomination. That said, Obama is one of the most naturally able candidates we have seen on the national political scene in recent memory and seems uniquely adaptable to a variety of different voter forums.

For today's Wag the Blog question, The Fix wants to know: Should Obama agree to a series of town halls over the summer with McCain? Why or why not?

The best comments will be featured in their own post later this week. Have at it!

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 15, 2008; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Posted by: yplo sljpqg | June 25, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

"You see, in the POST RACIAL WORLD, the country is attempting to understand why the Obama campaing has adopted so many RACIST TACTICS AND HOSTILITY TOWARD THE WHITE COMMUNITY."
------
Name one "racist tactic and hostility toward the white community" that Obama has used? This is the most bogus thing I've ever seen here.

By the way, Iowa Treasures, Obama's father was Kenyan, which is on the continent of AFRICA. When you make up stuff, you should check your facts if you want it to sound true.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 18, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Technically Obama has not won the nomination. If he participates in a debate or two over the summer and he looks bad (or his true self), he could lose superdelegates at the convention.

It would be in his best interest not to debate McCain until after the convention.

However, I hope he does debate McCain.

VOTE MCCAIN

Posted by: Angie | June 17, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Hatred against whites is still RACISM. The Obama campaign has a hostility toward whites and white culture which is so nuts that the country is under great pains to even understand it.


It is crazy.


You see, in the POST RACIAL WORLD, the country is attempting to understand why the Obama campaing has adopted so many RACIST TACTICS AND HOSTILITY TOWARD THE WHITE COMMUNITY.


It may be fine to go through that exercise.


However, Obama should NOT be elected. The people around him will hurt this nation - the Obama people should not be in control of the policies of this nation.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2008 1:48 AM | Report abuse

Hatred against whites is still RACISM. The Obama campaign has a hostility toward whites and white culture which is so nuts that the country is under great pains to even understand it.


It is crazy.


You see, in the POST RACIAL WORLD, the country is attempting to understand why the Obama campaing has adopted so many RACIST TACTICS AND HOSTILITY TOWARD THE WHITE COMMUNITY.


It may be fine to go through that exercise.


However, Obama should NOT be elected. The people around him will hurt this nation - the Obama people should not be in control of the policies of this nation.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2008 1:48 AM | Report abuse

McCain only wants townhall meetings because he is clueless on the issues but can be buddy-buddy with the questioners vice, GWB and pretend he knows what's going on. Let's have a variety of formats to show America his true incompetance.

Posted by: Rarerich | June 16, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Compromise - increase slightly the number of town hall meetings in exchange for getting to choose where, i.e. settings more comfortable to Obama.

This way he looks willing to meet McCain half way without looking foolhardy for giving up any political advantage.

Posted by: bissron | June 16, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I think it would have been the smarter move, just for the sake of public perception, for Obama to agree to the town hall meetings. McCain has enough recognition as a "reformer" or "change candidate" that he can play Obama's "post-partisan" game with him and Obama turning down the offer makes him easy to paint as a standard-issue Democrat, unwilling to engage his opponent in a useful manner and clinging to the status quo (very few totally uninformative and extraordinarily rehearsed debates). McCain pulled off a master stroke in making the offer in the first place, knowing that he would either be able to attack Obama for turning it down as above or would have the Democratic nominee right in his wheelhouse.

If Obama isn't careful, he could end up facing the inexperience argument while simultaneously losing the "change" label to McCain.

Posted by: Shattenjager | June 16, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Agree with the Boston post. Obama is pro-genocide. McCain is pro-overthrow-tyrants-who-kill-their-own-people-and-ours candidate. Obama is pro-abortion. McCain is pro-life. Obama is a my-friends-and-pastors-hate-America candidate. McCain is a I-would-and-almost-did-give-my-life-for-America candidate. Obama is 100-percent-voted-Democrat candidate. McCain is a I-worked-with-Feingold-Kennedy-and-other-Democrats candidate. The choice is very obvious. Good point JanCBoston.

Posted by: Tarheel | June 16, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I want to see how the two candidates can fare at different types of debate venues. We need to see their versatility of skills. How are they in small "town-hall" groups, large debates, and even one-on-one (tough) interviews? How they both perform will speak volumes to what kind of president they will be.

I believe Obama's approach of a variety of five debates makes more sense. I get the feeling McCain is trying to milk the perceived odds that he will do better at town-hall meetings. Sort of a "See your five and raise ya' five more" approach. The thing is, if Obama took McCain up on his ten town meetings offer, it wouldn't end up helping McCain -- as the grueling debate schedule would only give McCain more chances to screw up royally.

Posted by: Vermont ER | June 16, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

It's unreasonable for the McCain Team to hold out for all 10 town hall style meetings. There should be a mix of town hall and moderated debates. These formats accomplish very different goals. A town hall format is great for a candidate who needs the proximity of the audience, but the questions aren't usually very difficult to field and there is seldom any follow-up. A candidate who doesn't like the question at a town hall forum, just doesn't answer. McCain didn't answer a town hall question about a report that he called his wife an obscene name. He ridiculed the questioner. Great theatrics, but the question didn't get answered. Although the debates during the primaries were poorly moderated, (Gibson/Stephanopolous especially), the moderator debate format is still superior to a town hall. The moderator has the opportunity, as Tim Russet did, to gather the candidates own words and use them to point out contradictions and ask for clarification. This is not the case in the town hall format. Maybe a hybrid would be a solution. Have Phil Donahue, the master of the town hall, audience participation style, moderate the town hall style debates. He can serve as ref, make sure the questions get answered, and keep things moving. Anyway, is there anyone in this country who is undecided? The positions of Obama and McCain are so fundamentally different. It's not like during the primaries where we needed to hear the nuances of their positions. There is no nuance in this race. Obama is anti-war. McCain is pro-war. Obama is pro-choice. McCain is opposed to choice. Obama is for improved health care. McCain is for insurance companies.

Posted by: JanCBoston | June 16, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Debates are a great way for candidates to get their messages out and to differentiate themselves from one another - although, I do believe too many debates/townhall meetings ends up boring voters. We all end up hearing the same talking points over and over again.

Another thing I wanted to bring up that's a little off topic. Maybe I'm the only one that's sick of hearing the word "elitist" espcially from people commenting on a Washington Post blog or some highly educated, over priveleged pundit on TV, but the reality is that the fact that most of us posting comments would be considered "elitist"...Every single journalist, attorney, politico, or any other professional or well-informed person would be consider an "elite" by most of the country. So please stop calling other people "elitist" if you are one as well. It's almost as annoying as when people think "proactive" is a real word. And yes, I'm an elitist.

Posted by: Forest | June 16, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

The question shouldn't be whether McCain or Obama want the town hall format. Do the voters want it? Surveys show the public overwhelmingly believes that debate moderators manipulate the debates to favor the candidate of their choice. The town hall format is considered by a majority of voters as a forum that special interests or journalists cannot manipulate. At least five town halls should be held. The American public needs access to an unbiased perspective of how the candidates handle tough questions. They do not need a network or similar consortium to decide for them what are the key issues of concern to Americans.

Posted by: BadgerOne | June 16, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Now that they have both expressed their preferences, Obama should split the difference - three town hall meetings over the summer in various parts of the country, plus the one foreign policy forum in August and the three preexisting fall debates. I think it would show that he is prepared to debate McCain in a variety of formats and give him further opportunity to demonstrate that he's ready for prime time.

Posted by: Chuck | June 16, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

How about town halls at 20,000 seat venues for $20; the proceeds going to Midwest flood relief.

What happened to McCain's comment, "I'll meet (Obama) any time, any where." anyway?

Posted by: bob | June 16, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this whole question ridiculous.
The American People are making a decision about their own future -
What direction do they want their country heading into?
It is not about Obama or McCain - it is about the American People.
Both candidates should be vetted thoroughly and should be asked to speak at length about their views on the important issues of our times.
We need to hold our elected officials accountable to us -
The Lincoln - Douglass style debates would be fantastic.
So would townhalls and moderated speeches.
Unfortunately - after the ABC News debate debacle - the media cannot always be trusted to come up with a fair debate for the candidates.
The American People need to demand free airtime for their candidates from the television media - so that they can become an educated electorate.

Posted by: wendynyc | June 16, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

If I were Obama, I'd say "Sure, 10 meetings sounds good," and then would offer my own list of venues, including Chicago; Berkeley, CA; Cambridge, Mass.: etc. along with a token GOP stronghold, say Salt Lake City. Then, when McCain refuses, saying "These are all on your turf" I could say, "But what about Utah? You clearly have too many preconditions! Let's just do the regular-format debates then."

Posted by: sergio | June 16, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I think ten is too many. Five would do. Too many and people won't tune in. They'll say, "Oh, I won't watch tonight. I'll catch the next one." If they just do a few, people will more likely watch. And for me that's the point, to get more people looking at these guys.

Posted by: dyannne | June 16, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I disagree with the sentiment that town halls are an unknown forum for Obama (or a perceived weakness). Although he's managed to fill seats in large rallies and speech events, the fact is he has conducted town hall meetings across Illinois in the years preceding and following his Senate run. He's wonderful in the town hall forum.

Sure, it's McCain's best option, but I would hope that if I had been holding town halls since Moses was a registered voter, I'd be pretty good at them, too.

Posted by: burnedoutdem | June 16, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse


Andrew

"I'm not changing history, I'm explaining it to feeble minds that cannot grasp nuance and subtlty."

This is the new liberal mantra, and what it is most especially is elitism. You're too dumb to understand, and if that's the case, why should I explain it to you. What it also is, is evasion.

The Bush admin. says we will talk to you when you drop your nuclear program, but until then we will let the EU talk to you in our stead. The nuance is that in dem circles this means we don't negotiate with our enemies. Luckily, Pres. Obama is going to change the Iranian stance with his winning smile and hopeful message...sheesh and you claim the GOP is feeble minded.

Posted by: FH | June 15, 2008 5:59 PM

Dear FH,

If being willing to exercise tough diplomacy is elitist then count me in.

you are also making my point for me. I know what Bush's policies are towards Iran... nobody is argiung about what they are. we are arguing about whether they have worked or not. why can't you guys get that? instead of defending the policyon its merits you attack as appeasers those who want to change it. And if you think anyone believes a smile will change Iran you ARE feeble-minded.

Posted by: andrew | June 16, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

#########

'The Fix' was
fixated on J. Wright longer
than any other political
outlet.

Now the fix is
peddling another non-
controversy with
McCain's attempt to
get free air time from
the Obama campaign
through townhall
meetings.

In addition, the
fix evidently doesn't
pay attention to
CSPAN because I
remember seeing
Obama a number of
times doing small
Q&A sessions during
the primary.

Next the fix will
be asking us to
comment on
Obama's skin
color.

When do we get a
question about
whether we should
elect someone with
cancer who is also
72 years old?

#########

Posted by: thefixisatool | June 16, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Labor Day can't come soon enough to put an end to the Silly Season in which we now fester.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | June 16, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

McCain purposely suggested ten because he knew Obama would not accept all ten--in addition to the three debates already planned. By more or less guaranteeing Obama would have to refuse ten, by offering such a large number, McCain thought he'd score points.

If McCain really wanted to have joint town meetings he'd have agreed to the two Obama suggested!

Instead he refuses to negotiate and accept having five joint appearances. See anything bad about that people?

Posted by: B. L. Wickwire | June 16, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

So why all the waste of time over some
hypotheical debate or town hall between
Democrat Loser Yellow Coward Empty Suit
Barack Hussein Obama and Senator John McCain since Obama is afraid to debate
McCain face to face and will chicken out
just like Barack Obama did when Hillary
Clinton challenged Obama to debate if
you remember that now? Obama is a Coward!
One More Good Reason To Vote Again Cocaine
Addict Liar Coward Barack Obama! NOBAMA!

Posted by: Sandy5274 | June 16, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

10 debates is too many - Who wants to hear the same questions 10 times over?

I have no faith in an unbiased "Town Hall" format. Bush crushed any dream of that happening, and I would be very naive to think that questions wouldnt be planted, edited or coached.

A mixed bag of formats is preferable to watching the same debate over and over again, and 5 is plenty enough.

Posted by: Average Joe | June 16, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Obama needs to give McCain his ideal format any more than McCain would want to give Obama more debates-- there's just nothing in it. Why give your opponent the advantage in terms of format?

These proposals won't go anywhere and the American public won't care about this either. It's just political point-mongering that doesn't play outside the Beltway.

Posted by: DB | June 16, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I do not see it being a benift to do a town hall meeting weekly with Senator Obama &Senator McCain. I have listened to some of those so called Best Suited for McCain town halls and he stumbles over issues with the same words over and over. Nothing of substance comes out and he always says we took the words out of context. We need a change and yes i will say it as a veteran of the Greatest Military in the world. John McCain is not suited to be President. While he has served valiently, that does not give you the right to claim the Presidency just because you were next in line in the Grand OLD PARTY. Sooner or later it was going to be your turn but not anymore America is ready for CHange and not back to the past change but change in the future which Senator Obama represents

Posted by: Mr. Wisdom | June 16, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

McCain is far behind in money. He wanted free publicity, basically. Why should Obama give him free publicity every week?

Ah! I hear people cry, because then the issues will be discussed and debated and people can make up their own minds.

But this is McCains best format so the table is tilted: and judging by the partisan audience he dished up for the first town hall, the questions would be tilted too.

Basically it was a trap. The counter offer was reasonable and could have been expanded by another date or two in further discussions. By sticking to his original proposal with no change McCain comes across looking stubborn, unbending and overall not too well at all in my opinion.

Posted by: Pete | June 16, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Obama should just accept. He risks more by looking scared or unwilling to engage people.

Posted by: freeDom | June 16, 2008 6:09 AM | Report abuse

Obama should accept McCain's challenge with one proviso. Namely, Obama should insist that McCain also agree to several debates of Obama's choice. As it stands, saying no to town halls wrong foots Obama, and is a win for McCain that is even more certain than victories in town hall debates. If, on the other hand, Obama counter-proposes to accept the challenge on his own condition, then the political ball will be back in McCain's court.

Posted by: ccarter | June 16, 2008 4:34 AM | Report abuse

Obama should ignore McCain and the Republicans. That's just what the voters are going to do in November.

Posted by: thebob.bob | June 16, 2008 1:38 AM | Report abuse

It's so sad that people are twisting Senator Obama's words to suit their own selfish goals. It seems that some ultra-conservatives use the tactic of *taking Senator Obama's words out of context* - and that's not fair. We need to look beyond the unproven hear-say and rumor-mill - so I suggest people visit Senator Obama's new website (because it explains the truth) - http://www.fightthesmears.com

Senator Obama is a decent Christian man, who has a wonderful family & two precious daughters. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to mislead you. It's sad, but some people just want to damage Senator Obama - even though he's a good man who is living a part of the American dream. Check out his campaign website to learn more about his personal life and solutions for the US. Go to http://www.BarackObama.com

Posted by: Allen | June 16, 2008 12:52 AM | Report abuse

A QUESTION We the People need Answered:

Is Obama's whole campaign based on:
One Big Lie - CHANGE he did not make?

Obama claims 7 years experience in the Illinois legislature -(Working Across the Aisles, Bringing people together to get good CHANGES passed)-as exemplified by 26 good bills with his name on them.

A Chicago reporter says all 26 bills were passed in ONE Year and they were not Obama's.

http://wweek.com/editorial/3418/10516/

EXCERPTS:

But what's interesting, and almost never discussed, is that he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year.

Republicans controlled the Illinois General Assembly for six years of Obama's seven-year tenure.

Then Emil Jones Jr. (became the Senate Majority leader), He became Obama's kingmaker. Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills.

During his seventh year in the state Senate, Obama ... sponsored a whopping 26 bills including many he now cites in his presidential campaign when attacked as inexperienced.

QUOTING from Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope":

"After two terms during which I labored in the minority, Democrats had gained control of the state senate, and I had subsequently passed a slew of bills, from reforms of the Illinois death penalty system to an expansion of the state's health program for kids. I had continued to teach at the University of Chicago Law School, a job I enjoyed, and was frequently invited to speak around town."

Obama's own words confirm the fact that Democrats were in the Majority when he claims he passed ... a slew of bills. (The governor was also a Democrat at that time) ... bringing into QUESTION ... just how much ... (working across the aisles; bringing people together), if any, ... was Necessary to the passage of those 26 bills.?

It should be relatively easy to confirm or deny whether those 26 bills were passed in one year. If they were all passed in one year that fact creates a strong appearance the legislaion did not originate with Obama; was not written by him; not his legislation - given the fact that he worked part time as a state senator, part time as a college lecturer, and part time as a speaker - leaving him with ...too little time... to do as he claims.

The Chicago reporter's claim those bills were not Obama's is sourced to a talk radio host providing information that he claims came to him directly from Emil Jones.


The reporter's claim "...angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills" -is subject to verification by two or more Illinois State Senators whose legislation was assigned to Obama by Emil Jones.

IF the Reporter's claims are accurate then Obama is a FAKE, FALSE, FRAUD as a candidate for any public office - unfit for any public office.

Posted by: elme | June 16, 2008 12:28 AM | Report abuse

McCain set a trap. One town-hall a week, all summer long? McCain's best format? Please.

Fortunately, Obama didn't fall for it, and made a reasonable counterproposal. McCain reacted like a spoiled brat. He isn't trying to promote a dialogue. He's trying to get free air time 'cause he doesn't have as much money as Obama.

What a phony. When are the adoring media going to blow the whistle on this guy?

Posted by: jac13 | June 15, 2008 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Obama comes across like a loser refusing debates, bargaining the number down, and proposing his own qualifying and modifying terms.

McCain does apear old, and his delivery is slow. If one counts words/minute in his speech pattern, it might be at the low end of the scale for such a measure. On the other hand, Obama uses so many aaa, uhh, umm, in his "speech" that his word count might be about the same! He does have a nice deep voice, but that doesn't substitute for "great oratory", even if for the Obamaniacs, his rendition of a telephone directory may constutute a great speech.

"If I was Obama, I would tell McCain to go to hell" - really! You don't think it would be rude to say that to a man whose service Obama has praised on occasion?

"Political charlatan, Barrack Obama, has convinced his robotic followers that Obama can meet with Ahmejinedad without precondition; and, that the Iranian leader will experience an Obama epiphany and conversion to righteousness;" - like Bush peeked into the soul of Vladimir Putin and felt comfortable!

"after all, why should he agree to so many when his best venue is the stump speech? " - because debates are considered a very acceptable form of eliciting the views of the candidates. A Barack Obama, or some other candidateought not to be able to say tap dancing (or rap singing) is my best suit and I'll only accept that.

"If you've heard of identity theft, you would realize why candidates don't reveal their personal identifying numbers- ss#, birth certificate, etc... for people like you to cause problems with them. " - Good luck to anyone who will try to steal Obama's identity and fool anybody.

"The question is, given that the President of the United States and the First Spouse serve ALL Americans, not just those of their own race, Would Michelle Obama, after her lifelong pledges and commitments to serve "Black Community", "Black Institutions" and "Black Value System" be able to be First Lady to white people, too?" - or would Obama throw he also under the bus, 'splaining that she wan not the Michelle he knew sometime ago!

"David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, responded in kind. "That package of five engagements would have been the most of any presidential campaign in the modern era" - but I thought in this campaign, Obama is rewriting everything, and the old stuff is not relevant anymore! If anything, the Obies should have proposed twenty (a la McCain's flip comment - why not 100?) and forced McCain's hand. they should have said "Yes, we can"; instead, they are saying - "no, we can't". A change dificult to believe in!

"10 town hall debates is at least 20 hours of free national media coverage for McCain." Obamaniacs can't say that the contrast of a youthful Obama and aging McCain works to Obama's advantage, and at the same time begrudge the debates as giving free air time for McCain, who otherwise apparently can't afford it.


MCain gets about 200 people at his speeches, while Obama easily draws a crowd o 10,000. Extrapolating, I'd expect Obama to win in a landslide margin of epic proportions, say 98% to 2%.

That Barack, He's smoking (again)!

Posted by: Krishna | June 15, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Ask McCain/Obama about "GANG/COMMUNITY STALKING" and Whether Democracy is Being Stolen by Stealth, Harassment, Physical Intimidation and Manipulation of Banking and Communications Services.

Please read every word of the following link, and pass it on to TEN of your most influential associates:

www.usenet-replayer.com/faq/alt.abuse.recovery.html

This is serious, and it appears to be going on all over the country.

While the blogs focus on the "horse race," is democracy being stolen from us -- rendering the results of any election suspect?

No mainstream media outlet has covered this insidious phenomenon. Please read that link -- and take action to spread the word.

Posted by: Paul Revere | June 15, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, and on the age discrimination vs. racial discrimination thing.

I think it's probably fair to say that a person may have problems being president because of age related concerns.

But is it fair to say that someone could have problems being president becuase of race related concerns?

Posted by: John D in Houston | June 15, 2008 10:48 PM | Report abuse

10 Town Hall Meetings!!!???? TEN!!! Do you all really realize what McCain's camp was/is asking here? Ten town hall meetings would be total overkill. Does anyone think that by the 5th or 6th that ANYONE would be paying attention? We have seen what, 39 presidential debates already in the last year, and now Senator McCain's camp wants 10 more debates, plus the already scheduled 3 regular debates?

They knew this was a non-starter from the time they suggested it. It's just a ploy designed to make Senator Obama look weak. Check out the history of presidential debates since 1960. Johnson would not debate Goldwater; after 1960, there was NO way that Nixon would debate anyone. President Ford had to debate Jimmy Carter, because he was behind in the polls, yet negotiations for some of these debates went into the last minute. Point being, that these debates have always been give and take and negotiable.

Last but not least - food for thought - what other job can anyone think of where a man in his mid-forties could be seen as inexperienced?

Posted by: John D in Houston | June 15, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Here is what I, a Conservative Christian will ask McCain at a town hall meeting:
Was McCain ever a wife-beater? Why did he get divorced? Was he violent against his first wife? Is it true he choked her? punched her?
We know he has called his second wife a "cun*" -- a fact we have on tape and that Americans need to hear. Why does he regularly do this? Is this violent guy, friends to racists like Floyd and guys who joke about rape, someone we want near our young daughters? the WH?
As a Conservative Christian I would never vote for such an anti-Christian as McCain. A man who has friends attack Catholics as evil, a man who attacks our Evangelical leaders with violent language.

Posted by: GOP Street Against McBush | June 15, 2008 10:39 PM | Report abuse

No way he should agree.

Main reason: McCain wants to use them for free media exposure because he can't compete financially with Obama. If Obama agreed to these town halls, he would largely be kissing his financial advantage goodbye.

Posted by: Boutan | June 15, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

"Obama's age discrimination against Mcain is currently being discussed!"

IT IS? I guess I forgot. [And I'm only 65!]

Posted by: tom | June 15, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

McCain wants "Town Hall Meetings" on Fox News? Is this the Munich Beer Hall Putsch Town Meeting?

Get real, Johnny.

Posted by: tom | June 15, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and "McSame" is FAR preferable to another reprise of Jimmy Carter's presidency, which is exactly what we'd get with Obama: an idealistic, far left wing neophyte who'd be in WAY over his head as president.

Fortunately, that won't happen. Despite all the fawning press coverage that Obama has gotten, despite all the money he's raised, despite the fact that George Bush's approval rating hovers at around 30%, McCain still only trails him by 3-4 percentage points nationwide. Even the much-anticipated "bounce" in the polls that Obama was expected to get after clinching the Democratic nomination turned out to be pretty small.

The average American voter still doesn't know that much about Barack Obama, his extreme left wing voting record in the US Senate, or his highly questionable associations from his past. There's more dirt left to come out on him and the GOP isn't going to be nearly as hesitant as the Clinton campaign in playing them up.

An infautation is a lot different than a marriage, and right now half of America is infatuated with Obama because he looks good in the suit and gives a great stump speech where he can avoid specifics. But as time goes on, more and more Americans are gonna want to see what substance there is beneath the glitz, and the more they find out about who Obama really is and what he really represents, the better John McCain is gonna look.

Posted by: Dan R. | June 15, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

If Obama won't stand up to McCain, how can he stand up to the terrorists?

Okay, let's say you don't buy that talking point.

But that's how the McCain camp will play it. And it will resonate. If the Obama camp doesn't know that, they'll learn the hard way.

Obama has no choice: He's got to man up to at least a couple of the town hall tete-a-tetes with McCain. Maybe not five or six, but three sounds about right.

Posted by: scrivener | June 15, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

McCain is "disappointed" because like most other Republicans, they expect to get their way, to the partisan advantage of the GOP, with the Democrats giving in. There should be a compromise, with a forum between Barack and McCain every two weeks, starting about twelve weeks before the election.

I suggest two town hall meetings, two traditional "debates" and two real debates, abridged versions of the classic Lincoln-Douglas debates. where Barack and McCain actually debate each other, with extended discussions.

Posted by: Independent | June 15, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama is leading Mccain in the november runup, and as the leder, he will be very reluctANT TO SCHEDULE DEBATES... MORE THAN ALREADY SCHEDULED.

If the shoe were on Mcains foot, he would do the same thing

Posted by: pvogel88 | June 15, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama just was subjected to months of a losing campaign trying desperately to control every aspect of the election.

He is not going to let that happen again.

He can run his campaign any way he wants to, and does anyone here know his plans? No. No you don't.

Fox News? Kidding, right? If this were a C-SPAN or PBS event, then I would think there may be some fairness, but not Fox. This is just a ploy to garner free air time for McCain, who by the way, could have counter-negotiated for a different number of meetings/debates. Nothing is all or nothing, and he could actually compromise if he were willing to do so.

Posted by: Susan | June 15, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Obama is flat-out afraid to debate McCain in an open "town hall" format. Why? Because he knows full well that when he can't give a speech from a well-rehearsed script before an adoring crowd, he's helpless. He's repeatedly demonstrated a tendency to get ruffled when presented with uncomfortable questions that he'd rather not have to answer. McCain would eat him alive. McCain might be a very boring stump speaker, but he thinks much faster on his feet when the pressure is on than does Obama.

Posted by: Dan R. | June 15, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

The proposed town hall meetings are to McCain the difference between losing with honor and suffering a pasting of historic proportions. Town halls will only emphasize the vigor and vitality of Obama, mentally and physically. All McSame can do is embarass himself, especially once the country starts to pin McLame down on his Charles Keating salad days, and his inability to say no to corporate fatcat lobbyists.

The other day Obama pulled Joe Lieberman into a corner and told him to shut the hell up, and a town hall will be his opportunity to do so to McStupid in public.

Posted by: bondjedi | June 15, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Senator McCain is trying to make this situation into an issue - but this is a *non-story*. The fact that McCain is attacking Senator Obama for this - is just a smoke screen. McCain is just projecting his own inabilities onto Obama because Obama's the frontrunner. This is a standard ploy from the Karl Rove-playbook, but I think the American people will realize that McCain is hollering about nothing.

So overall, McCain's trying to distract the American people from the real issues - like - he's trying to distract people from his plans to keep us in Iraq for 100 years, McCain's trying to make people forget about his ties to bad lobbyists, McCain's trying to make people forget about his involvement with the "Keating 5" and McCain is trying to make people forget that he is aiming to divide the Democratic party. We need to move beyond McCain's tactics of divide-and-conquer.

We must support the Democrats in this election season and support them by advocating for change. We must support them by volunteering in our community. We can also support them by donating some dollars at http://www.Democrats.org or Senator Obama's web-site at http://www.BarackObama.com.

We must work to stop McCain - because our country desperately needs change. Please help us to get this country back on track. We can't just sit back and hope others will do it - we must get involved and work together. The Democrats must work and talk with moderate Republicans and Independents to make this country right. We can't win this election by separating ourselves. We must reach out to all Americans to lift-up this great nation of ours. We can do it. Yes we can! Vote for Senator Obama and other progressive-minded folks in this fall.

Posted by: Allen | June 15, 2008 8:56 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see a couple, but I see no reason why Obama should provide McCain with free press coverage. And at the end of the day, most people aren't paying all that much attention right now. Historically it's the conventions that bring people's attention and focus to the candidates. Doing townhalls in the summer probably will not make much of a difference for either candidate.

Posted by: CJ | June 15, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

A problem with Right-Wing Fundamentalists like McCain is they never want to compromise. Even on issues of national import it is their way or no way.

Posted by: Maddogg | June 15, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely, I think he should agree. The current debate structure definitely needs to "change" and if Sen. Obama is truly a new kind of politician than I think he should take Sen. McCain up on this offer. I think the current structure of debates is unproductive, with broad topics that deserve real attention all but glossed over in the interest of sound bites. A meeting, each focused on one topic with the candidates given substantial time to address the issues, minus the "gotcha" self-serving moderators, would be extremely beneficial to the voters in this very important election.

Posted by: CB | June 15, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely, I think he should agree. The current debate structure definitely needs to "change" and if Sen. Obama is truly a new kind of politician than I think he should take Sen. McCain up on this offer. I think the current structure of debates is unproductive, with broad topics that deserve real attention all but glossed over in the interest of sound bites. A meeting, each focused on one topic with the candidates given substantial time to address the issues, minus the "gotcha" self-serving moderators, would be extremely beneficial to the voters in this very important election.

Posted by: CB | June 15, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see town hall meetings of the 2 candidates televised, but Sen. Obama would do well to decline, because he doesn't speak well extemporaneously. If it's a question he doesn't have a stock answer to, he sometimes repeats the same word over and over, has trouble with his word choices for audiences that are not extremely well-educated and isn't succinct.

Posted by: KathyX | June 15, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Three town hall meetings a day except on Sundays when they'd do four. I see town hall meetings on individual subjects of particular import to the electorate: church pastors; terrorist associations; horticulture.... In short nothing of any substance, but plenty of room for snide winks and blind looking smiles uttered while waiting for the laughs that never come. Each day could have a theme colored backdrop.

Posted by: DG | June 15, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

McCain isn't very good at explaining his positions. He likes the format of the quick, one-liner, sarcastic jab....in other words, the non-answer.

Posted by: Joyce | June 15, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Just remember that the infamous cost-of-milk question came out of a town hall meeting.

There is value to this forum, but only when mixed with debates, meet-the-waitress events, great, grand speeches, and yes, the Internet. All of these combined give us a taste for the candidate. 10 town-hall meetings are just too many. We need to see these guys in all formats, all situations. This is how they will lead the country -- in controlled settings and not. What will they say? What will they do? How will they react to uncomfortable questions?

Posted by: Laura M. | June 15, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Bring back the League of Women Voters. Let's see them do REAL debates on PBS, one inportant issue at a time. The League of Women Voters quit sponsoring and moderating presidential debates 20+ years ago "because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter." It's been downhill ever since, now that networks and cable news are only interested in ratings...hence the "gotcha" and fluff questions.

Posted by: Joyce | June 15, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

I think Barack Obama should agree to a series of town hall meetings with John McCain before the election in November. But there should be conditions:

1) Ten town hall meetings by the end of the summer is a little much don't you think? Especially for Obama who just wrapped up the Democratic nomination fight while McCain had the freedom to relax and do what he wants. Obama has barely seen his kids this past year. Obama should agree to a number of town hall meetings with McCain (maybe five-seven) but ten is a bit excessive.

2) Many of the people at McCain's "meetings" are screened to make sure they ask favorable questions and have Republican credentials. Obama should establish that every reasonable person is welcome at the meetings.

3) We all know that McCain has the advantage in town hall meetings. Therefore if Obama agrees to seven town hall meetings with McCain then McCain must agree to seven debates (or whatever venue Obama chooses). Fair is fair.

4) Moderated by Fox News? Come on McCain, you can at least try to be fair. Everyone knows that Fox News is incredibly conservative. It would be like Obama requesting the debates be moderated by Keith Olberman. The candidates should agree to a moderator who has a history of unbiased reporting and concentrates on the issues. I would recommend Tim Russert but he sadly passed away on Friday. Therefore I nominate PBS' Jim Lehrer. Jim Lehrer has been reporting for an incredibly long time and is the true king of news anchors.

Posted by: Rod | June 15, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Senator Obama has a lot of work to do repair his own party, to go after the Clinton voters in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania. That is more important to him right now than anything. I don't think he should waste time, especially 10 hours of it, on McCain's "turf". Obama also wants to visit Iraq and some other places abroad. I suspect McCain is deliberately trying to tie Obama's time up so he would not be able to do these things. Anyway, can you imagine the boredom that 10 debates would produce? McCain is already the most boring person to run for president in a long time (second to George Bush. We would have campain fatigue before it even started. Maybe that is the only way he can win--by putting everyone to sleep

Posted by: James Voelker | June 15, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

As the months go by, the wars/economy developments will seal the deal.

If the wars/economy continues in disaster mode, McSame might as well pull a Clinton and suspend his campaign.

Economy improves? The wars appear to have an endpoint we can attribute to the Bush Cheny "strategy"? If this happens, Obama better meet with McSame and try to convince us why he should be President.

But if I were Obama, I would let McSame lie in the bed he has made for himself.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 15, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Given that the first town hall that Obama was to attend was packed with McCain supporters, it's understandable that Obama would be leery of them.

In my opinion, McCain's town hall meetings are a trap, and not really a good one since most of his misstatements, "it's tough" to be proud of your country and "maybe a hundred" years in Iraq, occurred during this format.

I personally would rather see a televised debate with Jim Lehrer as the moderator if he is able since his heart surgery last April.

Posted by: cincyr | June 15, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

It's very clear that McCain does not have the money that Obama has and will raise, this is just him trying to get free press. Nice try but none except the die hard GOP will fall for it.

Obama will do more debates, just not on McCain's terms. When they do it will not be with the loyal GOP like Bush did, but a cross section. When people see the contrast in age, positions, and more important, oratorical skills McCain's polls will start to match with W.

Posted by: Patrick NYC | June 15, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

In early May, republicans gave the man a 60% approval rating.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Obama2008 | June 15, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

"and you claim the GOP is feeble minded."

Um, yeah, any group that overwhelmingly thinks Bush is doing a good job is pretty idiotic.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget, there are already like three formal debates scheduled on top of these ten townhalls that McCain wants to do. Obama should do like two or three and let McCain grandstand all he wants at the remaining seven or eight. Sure, there will be people who will say he's weak for not doing all ten, but those are the same type of people who said he was weak for not putting his name on an unsanctioned Michigan primary. In other words, these people wouldn't have voted for Obama anyways. No big loss.

And there is no media filter only for the people who watch the event live. Everyone else watches the media coverage of the event.

And thirteen debates is way too many. We would just get sick of them. Remember how tiresome the Democratic primary debates were getting?

Posted by: DDAWD | June 15, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse


From McCain's point of view, any free publicity or anything that helps level the playing field is worth the risk. He starts out behind Obama in what is likely to be a Democratic year (economy and Iraq, plus Republican fatigue after eight years). It is a great ploy, and he can hammer Obama with it all campaign (if he refuses).

For Obama, it is the old story. Does he try to sit on his lead and coast to election by playing it safe, or does he get out and compete, take a chance.

Most likely his advisors will tell him not to do the town meetings or to do very few. They want to run a risk free campaign from here on out, and any new forum carries risks (for both candidates, but the one in the lead always has more to lose).

I suspect that finally they will do one or two so Obama can say he did them, and try to ride out the criticism from the McCain folks.

Their basic strategy seems to be to use their superior money and organization to unite the Democrats and build a huge get out the vote operation.

When you look at how many more people voted in Democratic primaries than in Republican ones, it seems like a good strategy from here.

If McCain were Obama, he would be doing the same thing, and vice versa (I mean in terms of positions of relative strength).

The problem for McCain is to figure out what he can do to turn around the dynamics of a bad Republican year.

Certainly trying to equalize the publicity field with town hall forums, and praying for an Obama mistake are good ideas, but they don't really seem like enough.

Posted by: PatrickInBeijing | June 15, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Andrew

"I'm not changing history, I'm explaining it to feeble minds that cannot grasp nuance and subtlty."

This is the new liberal mantra, and what it is most especially is elitism. You're too dumb to understand, and if that's the case, why should I explain it to you. What it also is, is evasion.

The Bush admin. says we will talk to you when you drop your nuclear program, but until then we will let the EU talk to you in our stead. The nuance is that in dem circles this means we don't negotiate with our enemies. Luckily, Pres. Obama is going to change the Iranian stance with his winning smile and hopeful message...sheesh and you claim the GOP is feeble minded.

Posted by: FH | June 15, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse


To Iowatreasures:

Are you joking? Are you trying to make Obama detractors look paranoid and uninformed? And all the people in the Doctor's office said that Obama is scary? Oh my! That certainly is a compelling reason not to vote for him.

The town hall format is only useful to get a sense of the personality of the candidates, not to debate issues. I think a few of them might be helpful to those voters who have been in a coma for that last year, but other than that, they are just fluff.

Posted by: Reality | June 15, 2008 5:19 PM

Way to change subject Obama supporter the guy you mention is not even commenting on this article Obama's age discrimination against Mcain is currently being discussed!

Posted by: | June 15, 2008 5:30
______________________________

Excuse me? There is something called punctuation. Use it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

First of all no one is interested in listening to McCain his lack of understanding any of the issues including the Iraq war is abysmal. The only way he can get attendance and TV ratings is if he can get on stage with Obama. The town halls are right up there with his invitation to go to Iraq with Obama. Also his town hall meetings are really rigged rallies with hand picked audience and preselected questions see here:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/6/14/0952/31661/488/535481

Obama's best bet is to ignore him and let his gaffed filled campaign die out in the obscurity it deserves.

Posted by: gilesjp | June 15, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Nothing can be accomplished for debate negotiations with the two candidates talking only through press releases and speeches. If both candidates are genuine, as I suspect they are, in their desire for meaningful debates, they must take the politics out, sit down together away from cameras, and make arrangements.

Posted by: AndyPar | June 15, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

The McCain event was crammed full of his supporters, recruited specifically for the purpose and I'm sure any other such 'town halls' will be treated with the same lack of integrity.

The fact is, if the election were held right now, it would be a landslide for Obama. Check out www.electoral-vote.com - Kerry was never ahead of Bush by these margins. Hell, Bush was never ahead of /Kerry/ by these margins.

Expect a lot more pathetic and silly tactics from the GOP in the run up to this election. It is going to be like 1932 all over again.

Posted by: Joey | June 15, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama said he'd do more debates, now he says he won't

he's a liar.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

No.

Eventually McCain will reduce the number he is requesting. Likely the proposal from the Obama Campaign, or a similar proposal will be agreed upon.

The debate isn't really over what format is better for which candidate, but who benefits from more debates. It has always been a rule of politics: if you are behind ask for more debates and if you are ahead stall on debate negotiations.

Clearly, McCain performs best in the town hall format, though Obama has performed well in this setting too. Neither McCain nor Obama performs particularly well in a traditional debate format. I would argue that Obama would "win" any of these types of joint appearances due to the differences in their appearances and a rough parity in their actual performance.

However, it is quite possible that where debate-watchers may break 55-45 for Obama, non-debate-watchers could break 60-40 for Obama (due to better media coverage, stump speeches and issue roll-outs). The idea being that while joint appearances are good for Obama, solo time is even better for him.

Long story short, Obama's campaign would be making a mistake to accept much more than the proposal which they made to the McCain campaign. Joint appearances are more to McCain's benefit than Obama's.

Posted by: StrawMan | June 15, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Did you see Barack Obama struggling to explain Johnson resigantion on McLaughlin Group? Have you ever thought that Sen. Obama could be even worse than George W. Bush if elected president?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

It is a non-issue, yet another in the long series of media obsessions with...media. The American public needs more in-depth reporting on issues of substance instead of another wrangle about broadcast fashion. But it comes as no surprise that the McCain campaign insists on focusing on such a superficial subject. It fits the illogical, emotion-based style of the last six Republican campaigns for president.

Posted by: nextseller | June 15, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama already established that he would meet enemies without preconditions. He made an articulate speech defending his reasons in a debate with Hillary. Maybe thats why debates are being limited now?

Posted by: | June 15, 2008 4:39 PM

I saw the debate and that was one of those "gotcha" questions that really don't reveal the deliberative process that governing requires. Again, the point he was making is that he is open to diplomacy and Bush/McCain/Some democrats are not! You know it and are either a demagogue or not a serious person...

Posted by: andrew | June 15, 2008 4:48 PM

Don't change history. Obama has flip flopped.

I'm not changing history, I'm explaining it to feeble minds that cannot grasp nuance and subtlty. I mean do you think Obama is just going to wake on Jan 22nd, 2009 as President (which is going to happen) and show up in Tehran on airforce 1? Do you know how much planning goes into a presidential trip -- even one from DC to Maryland? I mean come on, dude... you seem to be more ignorant than I feared and I diminish myself by engaging you in a discussion.

Posted by: andrew | June 15, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I am an independent; I have a profound interest in American politics. I can see things that fanatics in the both parties can't. I am leaning toward Sen. Obama, but I then I feel hesitant. I feel that he can't win. I feel hesitant to vote for him because Sen. Obama benefited from something very unjust; the way the media people treated Sen. Clinton. It was in many cases were abusive. I think my hesitation is shared by many. That makes me persistently feel that Sen. Obama's primary victory was quite hollow. I feel very nervous. Right now, all indications are that Democrats are going to "blow" it again. The Democrats are at least 15-20 points ahead in the polls in party preference. But their well touted candidate Sen. Barack Obama is dangerously behind the current political curve. He's only few points ahead of Sen. McCain. That is after Sen. Clinton gave him one of best endorsements in our political history. That should have given him a big bump. But it didn't. Besides Sen. Obama got so much, so valuable coverage on TV; every political events the Sen. Obama attended was turned into an effective political commercial for him by his friends and supporters in the media. Now this is very valuable for candidate. Sen. McCain has not received even fraction of that sort of publicity. And. Sen. Obama spent huge amounts money in many large states, spending three--four--five times more for TV than his opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton. But still many, many times he lost. I feel with enough publicity and exposure that Sen. McCain is going to easily overtake Sen. Obama. And if Sen. McCain chose Gov. Bobby Jindal as his running- mate, who's very eloquent, Oxford educated, Rhodes Scholar, ten years younger than Sen. Obama; it will be all over for the Democrats. Unless Sen. Obama wise up and chose Sen. Democrats should recognize that there's still huge amount of resistance to Obama candidacy in America. Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, can breakdown that resistance and she brings a huge bump in the polls for him. Otherwise, the Democrats are going to "Snatch defeat out of jaws victory" one more time. But I know that isn't kosher with many Obama supporters; including many of his supporters in the media, politico, and move on.org people.

Posted by: itoldyouso | June 15, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

To Iowatreasures:

Are you joking? Are you trying to make Obama detractors look paranoid and uninformed? And all the people in the Doctor's office said that Obama is scary? Oh my! That certainly is a compelling reason not to vote for him.

The town hall format is only useful to get a sense of the personality of the candidates, not to debate issues. I think a few of them might be helpful to those voters who have been in a coma for that last year, but other than that, they are just fluff.

Posted by: Reality | June 15, 2008 5:19 PM

Way to change subject Obama supporter the guy you mention is not even commenting on this article. Obama's age discrimination against Mcain is currently being discussed!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama and David Axelrod are so poltically astute it's mind-blowing.

There's a Br'er Rabbit joke about a briar patch or a Tom Sawyer joke about whitewashing a fence that describes what'g going on here.

The Town Hall meetings allow for more improptu situations and more expansive answers, charges and rebuttals than the TV debate format does.

For all of Obama's presence and sophistication he was weak in the standard TV debates. McCain was bad too but McCain was always judged the winner because of the affinity the MSM has for him.

I think despite McCain's sub-standard intellectual skills, poor vocabulary and grammar, and high-pitched screetchy speaking voice, he can repeat "foreign policy experience" and "commander-in-chief" like a mantra, occasionally throwing in gratuitous accusations of Obama's lack of patriotism. He can do this for every question. Just like he did with the far superior Huckabee, Paul and Romney.

McCain has no foreign policy experience is the truth, unless you count the POW thing, which is kind of like making Nicky Barnes Ambassador To Afghaistan because he's in prison for dealing heroin. And for advocating a state of permanent war, he's supposed to have great foreign policy experience.

Obama, while far the superior intellect, real debater and sense of nuance, might be tempted to try to "out-reason" McCain. The MSM will declare McCain the winner on his steadfastness.

In the Town Hall Meeting set-up, not only plays to participants who are interested, but also shows them up close and person and that hurts McCain a lot. It's kind of grim to be staring at a hideous disfigured man and listen to his cackling and screetching, and observing the pounds and pounds of clown make-up[ they put on him. On the other hand, Obama cuts a pretty normal and pleasant figure. And he can do a lot more improvising and extending and explaining, taking advantage of his intellectual gifts.

Posted by: DexterManley | June 15, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

To Iowatreasures:

Are you joking? Are you trying to make Obama detractors look paranoid and uninformed? And all the people in the Doctor's office said that Obama is scary? Oh my! That certainly is a compelling reason not to vote for him.

The town hall format is only useful to get a sense of the personality of the candidates, not to debate issues. I think a few of them might be helpful to those voters who have been in a coma for that last year, but other than that, they are just fluff.

Posted by: Reality | June 15, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't want any town hall meetings where any person in the audience can ask any question that comes to mind. Many of the messages posted here are indicative of the crap that would come up during a free-for-all town hall meeting. One subject per debate/town hall meeting would be great. Maybe then we can hear something of substance from both candidates.

Posted by: saddened american | June 15, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Bravo Mandrake!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

It is age discrimination!

Posted by: Ben | June 15, 2008 4:49 PM

I agree now you mentioned it. Even some pundits are making discriminating comments. Age and race are protected classes but Obama's is the only one protected?

Posted by: | June 15, 2008 4:55 PM

This is so true. If these same comments making fun of Mcain's age were used on Obama's race look out! Obama's should give a speech on the evils of age discrimination and this time it won't be self serving.

Posted by: Mandrake | June 15, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I think McCain´s campaign its not dumb and they want to exploit McCain experience in this format and show Obama as 'an unexperienced young man'. McCain is not worried about showing the American people what the future president of the US will do, but to affect Obama's campaign. We know he has lots of experience...but that is exactly the kind of experience America is sick of

Posted by: dan th | June 15, 2008 4:53 PM

Who says... Obama! We are not all against listening to Mcain only Obama.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

It is age discrimination!

Posted by: Ben | June 15, 2008 4:49 PM

I agree now you mentioned it. Even some pundits are making discriminating comments. Age and race are protected classes but Obama's is the only one protected?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I think McCain´s campaign its not dumb and they want to exploit McCain experience in this format and show Obama as 'an unexperienced young man'. McCain is not worried about showing the American people what the future president of the US will do, but to affect Obama's campaign. We know he has lots of experience...but that is exactly the kind of experience America is sick of

Posted by: dan th | June 15, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Barrack should absolutely agree to the town halls. Expectations are sky high for McCain, all Obama has to do is not make a major gaffe and get in a few good sound bites to win.

However, 10 is way too many, and it creates the real possibility that he will slip up at some point. Also, I'm political addict, but even I couldn't pay attention to 10 town halls. It could be part of a plan to take the shine off Obama through sheer boredom.

The Obama team is smart to agree but procrastinate so there is only time for 2 or 3.

Posted by: Eric | June 15, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Fox News is not an accurate or balanced news channel. And the Democrats, the Independents and moderate Republicans all recognize that fact. It's very sad that people are paying attention to McCain's accusations - because he's just trying to stir up trouble. We need less of McCain's fear-mongering, war-mongering and smear-tactics. Senator Obama is the better candidate because he's talking to the people, and learning what they want.

Senator McCain is not connecting with people - because he has his absolutist vision - like Bush - that will not bend. Senator McCain is not flexible - when he needs to be. Like President Bush, Senator McCain has the same logic of "I'm right and no-one will tell me otherwise" - and that's not what this country needs right now. Look where Bush's logic got us. We're spending $13 billion a month in Iraq - and just recently, it was found that another $23 billion was "unaccounted for" in Iraq. That $23 billion could have helped the Midwest with all these floods - or it could have helped to improve education or healthcare or veterans' benefits. But no - Bush thought he was right...but...he was wrong. Here's the link to the story:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7444083.stm

Posted by: Allen | June 15, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama already established that he would meet enemies without preconditions. He made an articulate speech defending his reasons in a debate with Hillary. Maybe thats why debates are being limited now?

Posted by: | June 15, 2008 4:39 PM

I saw the debate and that was one of those "gotcha" questions that really don't reveal the deliberative process that governing requires. Again, the point he was making is that he is open to diplomacy and Bush/McCain/Some democrats are not! You know it and are either a demagogue or not a serious person...

Posted by: andrew | June 15, 2008 4:48 PM

Don't change history. Obama has flip flopped.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

It is age discrimination!

Posted by: Ben | June 15, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama already established that he would meet enemies without preconditions. He made an articulate speech defending his reasons in a debate with Hillary. Maybe thats why debates are being limited now?

Posted by: | June 15, 2008 4:39 PM

I saw the debate and that was one of those "gotcha" questions that really don't reveal the deliberative process that governing requires. Again, the point he was making is that he is open to diplomacy and Bush/McCain/Some democrats are not! You know it and are either a demagogue or not a serious person...

Posted by: andrew | June 15, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"Sure Ol' Cranky wanted to challenge Obama to a ridiculous series of comfy old townhall meetings the very minute Hillary conceded. "

Written by a Obama supporter. And Obama's "confused" statement about Mcain is how they are trying to beet this veteran. Age discrimination Obama is cool with!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

The McCain proposal and Obama response are interesting, and suggestive of far more than the rhetoric on both sides publicly reveals.

The McCain suggestion is based on an assumption that the Republicans are in a very tough spot in this election cycle and have nothing to lose; while the Democrats have every reason to think that by playing it safe they will sail to a victory in November.

Pros and cons of teh town hall format? I write as a British national, living in the US for the first time. I loved the primary debates - the exposure to the candidates was wonderful and I felt a sense of democracy at work. How incredibly challenging for the candidates these debate formats are, where the slightest error in choice of word or phrase could mark the end of a candidacy, as has been the case with past elections. And here, precisely, lies my concern with the McCain proposal. Sure, exposing the candidates to the public in unscripted and challenging formats can be good. But surely it is unhealthy for this crucial electoral process for the future of the Presidency to be potentially determined by a slip of the tongue by either candidate? During the Democratic primaries we saw how Clinton emerged severely scathed are heavy questioning in one debate, while Obama was damaged by what was widely deemed unfairly heavy questioning in the final debate. Whether questions are posed by professional moderators or by members of the public makes little difference. The objective of this election is not to produce a President who is quick and nimble in public debating, but rather a person who is wise and able in governing. Public debates are just one of many tools used to vet candidates in the UNited States, but they should not be the predominant tool and they should not be allowed, by virtue of television, to focus attention on minute errors. Irrespective of which proposal favours which candidate, I believe the United States would be favoured by a fairly restricted use of debates, much closer to the proposal of the Obama camp than the McCain camp.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Obama doesnt need to do these town halls. Why give McCain free airtime? And the press acts like Obama is scared of these formats and that McCain is superior in the setting. Uh, last time I checked Obama has a J.D. from Harvard and edited the Law Review there. McCain would be unwise to underestimate his opponent's abilities.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

of cource Sen Obama would not meet enemies without preconditions. That's absurd. The point he was trying to make is that he is open to diplomacy whereas Bush and McCain are not. every serious person knows this and I have watched this issue being demagogued by people who know better.

Posted by: andrew | June 15, 2008 4:34 PM

Obama already established that he would meet enemies without preconditions. He made an articulate speech defending his reasons in a debate with Hillary. Maybe thats why debates are being limited now?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Sure Ol' Cranky wanted to challenge Obama to a ridiculous series of comfy old townhall meetings the very minute Hillary conceded. And of course the "gimme 10!" demand got a counterproposal. That was the whole point--to pretend Obama had rejected a perfectly reasonable proposal so the "oh my, Obama is sceered o' me" taunts can begin. Isn't the muppet's critic balcony missing one grumpy old man?

Who's falling for this? While McCain is deciding which perverted oil man can throw him a fundraiser, Obama is mobilizing his volunteer and financial network to assist in the Midwest flooding disasters, and helping out personally with the sandbagging operations. Hmmm, I wonder if McCain and Bush are eating cake in the wake of this flood disaster, too?

I'm looking forward to Obama's action presidency, instead of Bush-McCain's blowhard and blowharder.

Posted by: Lee | June 15, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I read the transcripts to the seven Lincoln-Douglas debates a few years back, and it occurred to me then how enlightening they were compared with all of the presidential debates I've watched since Carter - Ford in 1976. Can't we move to a format that won't play to sound bites, easy one-upmanship, and moderator bias? During the Lincoln-Douglas debates, speaker one had an hour, speaker two had ninety minutes to rebut, and speaker one then had a half-hour surrebuttal. Issues were thoroughly examined, rhetoric was practiced as an art form, and the packed forums were entertained and educated. Even if we cut it down to 90 minutes instead of three hours owing to our alleged shortened attention span, wouldn't we learn a lot more using Lincoln's format?

I know such a forum would benefit Obama, but it would also benefit voters. Can't McCain be more flexible?

Posted by: Peter | June 15, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I read the transcripts to the seven Lincoln-Douglas debates a few years back, and it occurred to me then how enlightening they were compared with all of the presidential debates I've watched since Carter - Ford in 1976. Can't we move to a format that won't play to sound bites, easy one-upmanship, and moderator bias? During the Lincoln-Douglas debates, speaker one had an hour, speaker two had ninety minutes to rebut, and speaker one then had a half-hour surrebuttal. Issues were thoroughly examined, rhetoric was practiced as an art form, and the packed forums were entertained and educated. Even if we cut it down to 90 minutes instead of three hours owing to our alleged shortened attention span, wouldn't we learn a lot more using Lincoln's format?

I know such a forum would benefit Obama, but it would also benefit voters. Can't McCain be more flexible?

Posted by: Peter | June 15, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Wrong, McSame is the empty suit.

Venezuela's and more important, Iran's President represents an actual threat to the civilized people. Like Bush, he is surrounded by sycophants. He needs to be told face to face what he is up against.

McSame can't fill a room with more than 200 people. He is irrelevant to the future of this country and the world.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 15, 2008 4:27 PM

So your saying Barack Obama has more concern for his campaign then for the United States. When he talks to are enemies no big deal but Mcain let's have some rules. Your right he is worse than just a empty suit!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

of cource Sen Obama would not meet enemies without preconditions. That's absurd. The point he was trying to make is that he is open to diplomacy whereas Bush and McCain are not. every serious person knows this and I have watched this issue being demagogued by people who know better.

Posted by: andrew | June 15, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

what is obama afraid of? he should do some townhall meetings. why is he afraid to answer questions directly from the public. those who are staunch defends of obama say no its not necessary - but all they do is march to the same tune as the obama campaign is playing. I would like to see a townhall meeting, especially here in FL. I would like to ask a question or two directly to both candiates. maybe 10 is too many, but what is wrong with 4-5 townhall meetings. could it be that obama is fearful that he would have to answer a serious question or too. I am not republican, I am a democrat amd would like to see my party's candidate stand tall. remember, mr. obama did say he would meet mr. mccain anyway, anytime, anyplace - have he flopped on that already?

Posted by: mary | June 15, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Wrong, McSame is the empty suit.

Venezuela's and more important, Iran's President represents an actual threat to the civilized people. Like Bush, he is surrounded by sycophants. He needs to be told face to face what he is up against.

McSame can't fill a room with more than 200 people. He is irrelevant to the future of this country and the world.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 15, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

He would meet with are enemies with no preconditions but not Mcain. Barack is an empty suit!

Posted by: | June 15, 2008 4:17 PM

That is a valid point.

Posted by: Jerry | June 15, 2008 4:19 PM

Yea, I know right. This tussle does not make sense. Barack should be complaining that Mcain wants to few if he truly was change we can believe in!

Posted by: Mcbeth | June 15, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

The McCain proposal and Obama response are interesting, and suggestive of far more than the rhetoric on both sides publicly reveals.

The McCain suggestion is based on an assumption that the Republicans are in a very tough spot in this election cycle and have nothing to lose; while the Democrats have every reason to think that by playing it safe they will sail to a victory in November.

Pros and cons of teh town hall format? I write as a British national, living in the US for the first time. I loved the primary debates - the exposure to the candidates was wonderful and I felt a sense of democracy at work. How incredibly challenging for the candidates these debate formats are, where the slightest error in choice of word or phrase could mark the end of a candidacy, as has been the case with past elections. And here, precisely, lies my concern with the McCain proposal. Sure, exposing the candidates to the public in unscripted and challenging formats can be good. But surely it is unhealthy for this crucial electoral process for the future of the Presidency to be potentially determined by a slip of the tongue by either candidate? During the Democratic primaries we saw how Clinton emerged severely scathed are heavy questioning in one debate, while Obama was damaged by what was widely deemed unfairly heavy questioning in the final debate. Whether questions are posed by professional moderators or by members of the public makes little difference. The objective of this election is not to produce a President who is quick and nimble in public debating, but rather a person who is wise and able in governing. Public debates are just one of many tools used to vet candidates in the UNited States, but they should not be the predominant tool and they should not be allowed, by virtue of television, to focus attention on minute errors. Irrespective of which proposal favours which candidate, I believe the United States would be favoured by a fairly restricted use of debates, much closer to the proposal of the Obama camp than the McCain camp.


Posted by: Neb | June 15, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

This all about free media coverage.

Obama has raised so much more money than McCain that McCain needs as much free press as possible to compete.

10 town hall debates is at least 20 hours of free national media coverage for McCain.

This is why McCain wants to have the town hall meetings and this is why Obama does not.

Posted by: Patrick | June 15, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

He would meet with are enemies with no preconditions but not Mcain. Barack is an empty suit!

Posted by: | June 15, 2008 4:17 PM

That is a valid point.

Posted by: Jerry | June 15, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

One or two meetins would be enough, but not exclusively covered by Fox News. Where are the nuts on this site coming from - it used to have an intelligent base? Back to reason and facts. No one wants to read irrational garbage.

Posted by: txajohnson | June 15, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

He would meet with are enemies with no preconditions but not Mcain. Barack is an empty suit!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

What Obama acquiesced to in the first place (his two-event offer you mention at column's beginning) is, at the very least a good start: McCain could agree to those two now, but make it clear he doesn't view that as sufficient and push for more additions. (It's not as if accepting those two events would preclude more events.)

That is, if McCain really wants to GET five of these events, then take the two now, and push hard for an additional three. Obama may not go for the three extra, but after McCain dismissed the two-event offer with this "very disappointing response" nonsense, Obama CERTAINLY will not agree to a McCain-friendly five-event proposal.
So if McCain had accepted that offer, not only could it have paved the way for more town hall meetings, it would have been MORE LIKELY to do so than this track: turning down the two-event offer to push for a five-event offer.

Which tells me that McCain isn't really trying to maximize town hall-style events anyway; he's just trying to drum up an issue that would belittle Obama and his campaign.

Posted by: geoffreyb | June 15, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

No. For two reasons.
Substantively, America has been watching these guys for 18 months now, so we know who they are. We don't 10 more viewings to decide who is best head to head. Five is plenty. They will not say anything new in the next five.
Politically, Obama has the lead and the momentum. Jumping to McCain's whistle would be and would be perceived as being weak. John McCain has to earn the lead himself. Then he can call the shots.

Posted by: Pragmatist | June 15, 2008 3:41 PM

Spoken like a true current Obama supporter. Those that do not wish to just jump on a bandwagon do not know Barack Obama. Mcain is known and came up with the idea. Obama is still largely unknown and acts like he wants to keep it that way. Or is there something he is hiding.

Posted by: Jerry | June 15, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

The debates should happen in a number of different formats. 5 encounters is plenty if it is done right. They must agree that the focus will be on the issues and not on the extraneous stuff - the hate and race mongering and innuendos about whatever. It must be done professionally and with each side given the time to fully express their positions and views. And, it should all be televised and fully scripted and posted on the internet and in the newspapers.

The questions need to be within bounds, not anything anyone wants to ask about any rumor or comment that someone made at the barber shop. It must be substantive. I mean, we all know the issues, let's have a series of five with two or three at most subjects to be discussed at each. The subjects might include the obvious, which are as follows as well as what each candidate feels the issues are to begin with:

- What will you do about the daily loss of lives and new casualties and the billions being spent in the war in Iraq?
- How will you deal with Iran and other nations with mal intent?
- How will you succeed at the so far failed effort to route out Bin Laden and his terrorists?
- What will you do about declining American long term security from through foreign policy, policies on religion generally, and religious terrorists and extremists specifically. The question might be phrased - how will you deescalate the global tension? How will you build a bridge of understanding to the non extremist Muslim world and to other major religions and cultures to build global social stability and work together with them to eradicate terrorism?
- What will you do about the US policy of unilateralism and shooting first?
- How will you handle the real and important issue of representing and moving everyone forward including African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities within America?
- How will you address the lack of economic progress in the last 8 years and rapidly growing economic misery for the typical American.
- What will you do about the financial crisis (made in America by the way), that is infecting the global finanacial system and bouncing back in other shapes and forms and knocking on America's door with secondary impacts?
- How will you address the loss of homes by millions?
- What is your prescription for the vacuum in health care for millions in a faulty system that desperately needs overhaul to expand and offer full coverage to all while at the same time reducing costs?
- How will you address underfunded social security as boomers rapidly approach retirement?
- What is your approach to handling the budget and current account deficits?
- How will you address the decline of the dollar in America and as a global reserve currency?
- What is the right answer to spiraling oil and gas and other commodity prices that seem to be out of control?
- Will you look to change America's energy policy to one that would replace oil and gas dependence with truly long term sustainable energy from sun and wind? If so, how and in what time frame?
- Will you look to change America's environmental and science policies, which have historically fueled its growth in productivity and return them to unmatched in the world? If so, how? If not, why not?
- Will you return America to a leadership role in the world. In particular will you look to lead the global attack on the lethally real and exponentially growing environmental issues including pollution, global warming and polluted water? If so, how? If not, why not?

Posted by: paulstewart | June 15, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

All proposals require negotiations. It is appropriate for the Obama campaign to counter the 10 proposed town hall meetings, with half that number, and throw in another format similar to the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Furthermore, without a moderator to enforce time, agreements would have to be reached as to time alloted to an answer and how to enforce, as well as to alternating. Lastly, to avoid one side or another packing the audience (I understand the recent New York town hall meeting was by invitation only and covered by a notoriously partisan Fox), there should be a McCain supporter section and an Obama supporter section, with alternating questions addressed to both candidates.

Posted by: phsato | June 15, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama is a Muslim, he wasn't even born in America. Michelle Obama hates white people and has written papers advocating black power. As long as I'm ranting.. the holocaust never happened, the moon landings were faked and actually done in a hollywood sound stage, AIDS is g-ds revenge for homosexuality and the world is actually ruled by 7 zionist bankers. Oh did I mention the earth is actually flat?

Posted by: Brian | June 15, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

No. For two reasons.
Substantively, America has been watching these guys for 18 months now, so we know who they are. We don't 10 more viewings to decide who is best head to head. Five is plenty. They will not say anything new in the next five.
Politically, Obama has the lead and the momentum. Jumping to McCain's whistle would be and would be perceived as being weak. John McCain has to earn the lead himself. Then he can call the shots.

Posted by: Pragmatist | June 15, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Fox = Shill Central.

How about the retired fireman's fund for washed-up has-been conservatives? Fair and balanced commentators like Rove and Huckaby. Get a job already guys.

Posted by: Rintintin | June 15, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Of course BHO should agree. And, whoever puts the event on should try to avoid it being packed with supporters and should instead give those who want to ask the candidates real questions a chance. The MSM is never going to ask either of the two questions that would reveal the flaws in their policies, so that means we need to do it.

And, this format is even better than a townhall:

http://nomoreblather.com/policy-debates

Debates in that format don't stand much of a chance of happening because partisan hacks and the corrupt MSM would fight it tooth and nail.

So, if anyone wants real questions to be asked, we need to do it. And, take along a video camera and upload the response to Youtube.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | June 15, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Asper Girl, you are a liar.

In her senior thesis at Princeton, Michele Obama, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama stated that America was a nation founded on "crime and hatred'.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/504/

You know, I was never much of an Obama fan, but watching the attack machine spin up is swiftly turning me into one.

Posted by: Spike | June 15, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Three points:

1) Obama should agree to some townhall meetings -- the visual contrast between the dessicated McCain and the fresh-faced Obama will be startling. Besides I think he would embarras McCainon the substance and in presentation. So McCain better be careful what he wishes for...

2) Still Obama should not agree to so many townhall meetings that he ends up gifting McCain with free airtime and free exposure and excitment that McCain is incable of generating on his own.

3) So I think two or three would suffice. If McCain really wants townhall meetings why would he turn down an offer of three. After all, two or three is better than zero. His insistence on 10 betrays his real motive... to get free airtime coz he is broke... and to bask in Obama's glow coz he is so unappealing on his own.

Posted by: andrew | June 15, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I posted a comment a few minutes ago, and as I was browsing to see if it came up, I saw a comment by jacksmith and could not stop laughing. Either this is a joke, or someone has stopped taking their meds.

Posted by: Al in Fl | June 15, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I predicted this. Living in Illinois we are used to shifty politics. Our governor who was and is currently under investigation by the US attorney pulled the same thing. He eliminated the chance of looking worse. Obama even had the media impling as he was that he had 20 or more one on one debates with Hillary when that was not true. With One on One debates Obama will stick close to the minimum.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I have heard both men in town hall meeting formats on POTUS '08 over XM radio, and it is a better format for both of them than media standard debates, where neither could touch a Joe Biden for clarity and forcefulness. It is McC's best format, and second best for BHO after the set piece speech.

They have each given audience participants the mike long enough to actually exchange conversation, and they both handle difficult situations well. More can be learned by us from town hall meetings, especially if the two engage each other as well as the audience, than from any other format.

I strongly encourage BHO and McC to hold at least 5 of these meetings, in different parts of the country, before audiences selected with the approval of both men.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | June 15, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'm actually quite relieved to hear that so many conservatives are so worked up about Obama right about now; because at least now we've got a pulse. Just when we thought you were all dead or sleeping----electing a fool like Bush to office, well, now we've got a much better idea of how you intend to solve the situation don't we? And your answer is...[drum roll please]...McCain! Yipee. Half-corpse/half man---isn't that great?!

...And yet the age-old anthem keeps going on: "McCain ain't great---but Obama is worse". Ok---so, presuming you are correct [not saying you actually are BUT let's work with the idea here]. Does that mean we continue to vote for the lesser of the evils?

Screw THAT idea! Why on Earth would we vote for the "lesser" of evils? If I'm going to vote for a bad choice no matter what, then I'm not going to waste time with mediocrity! Why not take your case straight to the top and elect Satan himself? At least then you could find out once and for all where this country is headed. Instead, all you conservatives want to mess around with the chumps who are eventually going to have to see the big guy anyway. And that's the way it's always been between "conservatives" and "liberals" since time began---conservatives kick and scream while all of us "crazy" liberals drag you onward to genuine progress!

Thus, if Obama's the "evil" guy---then I'll quote AC/DC: "If you're into evil you're a friend of mine"

...And one more thing. So much for separation of the church and state in this country. I, for one, will not stand for the religious right continuing to cram their views down my throat---who, by the way, may be religious but they most definitely are NOT right about a good many things!

What this country really needs is a new party to keep both liberals and conservatives honest.

Posted by: nathan | June 15, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

It is silly and naive to think that McCain will do better than Obama in Town Hall style settings. Obama is quite articulate and will do VERY well in that format. In fact McCain will have huge problem facing the truth in trying to defend George Bush and Republican party's pathetic record and blunders. They will have to explain the decision to attack Iraq based on a pack of lies and manufactured intelligence (to suit the predetermined policy) simply for political reasons to win election after election against domestic terrorists" the Democrats". The damage that they have done to this country is almost treasonous and they will be held accountable by the American people in November.

Posted by: GC | June 15, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama is not only a Moslem but a member of the Gujawaljee sect of Moslem-ism, a fanatical branch of the devilish religion that file their teeth to points. Obama has his teeth filed to points but has plastic caps on them to disguise his Gujawaljee membership. Larry Sinclair knows this and will be disclosing all of the facts, plus unforgettable evidence, at his news conference at the National Press Conference on June 21, 2008. Read the details at www.truthseeker.org/obama_gujawaljee.html

Posted by: jacksmith | June 15, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Just ignore iowatreasures....she's been getting her facts wrong for a while...now she believes faux news is something more than a republican pr channel.
and aspergirl???????????
is michele obama the presumed democrat candidate?
uh, no. DUH! enough with this silly prattle. you took up too much space with claptrap...

Posted by: easyenough | June 15, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Chris, you're buying into what media darling McCain is selling. Obama DID agree to the idea. Is it really in the interests of anyone except McCain for Obama to say "Sure, John, whenever you want, whereever you want, and with whatever crowd (probably the faux "independents and Democrats" that even Fox News called them out on) you want."? That would be like the Boston Red Sox giving up a home series to play on the road in Yankee Stadium because Derek Jeter kept leaving rambling, angry messages demanding it on their voicemails.

Posted by: vawriter | June 15, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree that McCain is looking for free airtime, and that it's Obama's spotlight to make decisions from. But I do remember Obama saying he looks forward to debating foreign policy with McCain any place and anytime.

I really like Obama but the Johnson thing last week really made me wonder about his decision making. I hope he is the person that the media and the young followers make out to be.

Posted by: Mark Cantor | June 15, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Iowatreasures wrote:

"I just saw on Fox News just now, another Obama lie. The report was telling how Obama's father abandoned him when he was two and I have read he didn't see him after that, then his mother remarried and went to Indonesia until he was 10 years old.

"Problem with the Fox report was that the picture they were showing of Obama and his father, with his father's arm around Obama, Jr., and Junior was about 8 or 9 years old - not two.

"Just another lie - I am sure the 3700 Obama control freak smear breakers will find some unique explanation for that picture. gw."

Um, if you look in Dreams from My Father, a book Obama wrote two decades ago, you will find an entire chapter about the month-long visit from his Dad (long after the divorce) during which that photo was taken. This story has been repeated and confirmed with photos, etc., by many reporters. Here is the explanation:

Obama's parents married young while in college. Like many marriages in that situation, theirs did not last. When Obama was two, his father got an offer to be a graduate student at Harvard that didn't financially cover a family, just a student. He chose to take it, even though he had an offer at a less prestigious graduate school that would have covered the family. So, Obama Sr. did "abandon" his family in that very real sense, but it's not like he vanished. They knew he was a graduate student at Harvard and there was some sense that perhaps the separation was temporary, but of course it led to divorce.

Several years later, as you note, his Dad returned for a single month-long visit, which is when that photo was taken. This was after Obama had permanently returned to Hawaii to live with his grandparents and his mother was there for the visit as well. It was a time that produced his only memories of his father, since he didn't have memories of him from earlier. The chapter about this visit goes on in some detail.

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to come from a family where nobody has ever gotten divorced and no child has ever had to deal with the post-divorce relationship with that parent. For those of us from most American families, however, the story has a very familiar ring to it, and the awkwardness and love in the post-divorce photo has the bittersweet feel many of us associate with such relationships.

I have a suggestion. Why don't you focus your decision on what John McCain and Barack Obama have to offer in terms of leadership, new ideas, relative priorities, policy proposals, and so on, and make your decision between them in November based on those more traditional criteria? This creepy analysis of a divorced family doesn't feel appropriate to an election of this importance.

I totally disagree with John McCain myself (for example, I'm concerned that he would like a Supreme Court that would overrule Roe v. Wade), but I have absolutely no interest in this kind of character assassination against him. I believe we have two interesting candidates of fine character who have dedicated their lives to public service, and we're lucky to have the privilege of choosing between their very different plans and approaches for the future. A clear choice can be democracy at its finest. Let's fight it out on those terms.

Posted by: Fairfax Voter | June 15, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Why would Obama want to be seen with McSame, why dignify McSame's candidacy?
It would be like getting into a "debate" with a Faux News person. The eye rolling, the interruptions, the relentless changes of subject. McSame will do anything to drag Obama into the mud.

No,Obama should let McSame twist on his own, high up in the wind. His speeches to 200 invited guests are the perfect farce.

I can't wait until he promises victorious war, again - every departing generals' opinion to the contrary.

Now that the RNC owns his campaign, there is nothing McSame can do but try to drag Obama down with him, hoping the disgusted voters will once again give up on any real hope for a change. McSame can only win if the turnout is tiny.

Posted by: shrink2 | June 15, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Senator Obama made the right decision in this case because, in general, he has the best results (in voter-numbers) when he connects with more people at more locations. On the other hand, Senator McCain's proposal for 10 town-hall meetings is both arbitrary and excessive.

In this column, the reporter, Cillizza is repeating some made-up story that McCain is "better" at town-halls - when in reality, the format of "town-hall" is just something that McCain prefers because McCain *doesn't talk loud enough* to reach beyond the small number of people there (he has no public presence).

Also, it's bizarre for this column's writer to say that Senator Obama is "less experienced" at the town-hall format - when in reality - Senator Obama has been using the town-hall format a lot. In other words, this story is a "non-story" that the Republican Party is concocting to suit their own goals. It'a aslo sad that they're attacking Senator Obama's wife when his wife Cindy McCain was found to be a drug-addict. Cindy McCain also stole drugs. Check out the story yourself or look for it through Google. Here's the link

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/10/18/drugs/

Posted by: Allen | June 15, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Iowatreasures wrote:

This country is getting more and more worrisome all the time. The elitists, the MSM, the corrupt Chicago Way (Obama/Axelrod) have hijacked the Democratic Party. Barack Obama is a fraud, a pathological liar - he lies so quickly, it has become second nature to him. I think he almost believes his own lies. He is an Arab not an African. His father was 87.5% Arab. Obama practiced the muslim religion much longer than he admits to - his high school teacher in Hawaii said he was a devout, practicing muslim there.
-------------------
It looks like you've done quite a bit of research here on Obama. Do you have a URL that sources any of this information?

Posted by: Steve | June 15, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Iowa Treasures: it is well documented that there was a SINGLE reunion between Barack and his father. Perhaps you should be out sandbagging the rivers than the blogs.

Aspergirl - the biggest believer in right-wingnut conspiracies on these boards calls Cilizza a shill? Pot. Meet kettle.

BB

Posted by: Fairlington Blade | June 15, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Town halls with no moderator and little cohesion offered by networks would degenerate into a softball-filled mish mash that would lend nothing to the overall political discourse surrounding this campaign. There's a reason we're all mourning Russert as a vital cog in Democracy: His insightful questioning allowed us to really know the candidates. Town halls don't do that.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: matt | June 15, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Shorter Aspergirl: Be afraid, be very afraid.

That's worked well for us so far, eh?

Posted by: Karen H. | June 15, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I think it is shameful that Plouffe would have the historical basis to be able to say that five (yes, you can count to it on one hand) "engagements" would be an unprecedented bout of openness. I believe the candidates should be seen together frequently -- town halls, debates, you name it. Each format lets us see something different about the candidates, especially when they are side by side, and all such encounters should be encouraged.

That said, town hall meetings would have something to add to this campaign, from the undecided voter's perspective. Both candidates have given speeches, both have partaken in debates; we have not seen as much of Senator Obama in small, intimate settings. Rather, speeches and debates have allowed him to stay more on message than almost any other candidate in history. He has relied on a strategy we might -- to pilfer one of his favorite hyphenations -- call a Bush-Obama style of campaigning.

It would thrill me, for one, to hear both candidates answer ordinary voters' hopefully unexpected questions on such issues as free trade and health care (which I consider the top issues of this election); seeing the candidates' think on their feet about these issues would add another layer to evaluate them by, besides just their set speeches and talking points. Those, I sadly feel, we barely need to go to a speech or meeting to hear, any more.

Posted by: Peter | June 15, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I think instead of town hall meetings, more substance would come from Lincoln-Douglass type debates. This was originally on the table, but McCain knows he will not do well with this. 10 town-hall meetings with "carefully chosen participants" isn't exactly an open forum or representative of the electorate. Lincoln-Douglass debates would force the candidates to actually display what issues they feel are most important to the future of America and would force them to directly address the nuances of each others' arguments. Other formats tend to go into silly season of politics.
McCain is supposed to be the legislator of experience - if that is the case he should be able to argue what policies and laws will make the country better and still be constitutional. At the same time, Obama is the constitutional educator and he should be able to address policies and laws in the same way... will make for interesting conversation and questioning between them instead of letting others shape the discussion.

Posted by: karstrial | June 15, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

MICHELLE OBAMA THE BLACK SEPARATIST

In her senior thesis at Princeton, Michele Obama, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama stated that America was a nation founded on "crime and hatred'. Moreover, she stated that whites in America were 'ineradicably racist'. The 1985 thesis, titled 'Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community' was written under her maiden name, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson.

Michelle Obama's senior thesis ranges from being a personal rumination on her own anticipation of alienation, a criticism of the inherent and conscious racism of her school, and a sociology survey and hypothesis test study. She didn't see a group of fellow Princeton friends or fellow Americans. She saw black students and white students, just as her study tried to find divisions in the Princeton alumni between black alumni and white alumni based on sampling the racially themed activities of the blacks.

First, her thesis lays out some sociological principles of black identity. Underlying her thesis is Michele Obama's use of the notions 'separationist' and 'integrationist' as defining terms for blacks experiencing identity in community.

In the thesis, Michelle Obama argues that "separationist" blacks are more insightful in their social self-awareness than "integrationist" blacks, who are "ignorant": "By actually working with the Black lower class or within their communities as a result of their ideologies, a separationist may better understand the desperation of their situation and feel more hopeless about a resolution as opposed to an integrationist who is ignorant to their plight."

As the experimental part of a "study" of her thesis, she sent 400 black Princeton alumni surveys asking about their post-graduation racially-oriented activities. The survey was intended to measure the degree of loss of black identity of Princeton-educated blacks, as measured by how many black-themed activities they engaged in. Only 89 alumni responded out of 400 who received a survey to answer.

Based on those 89 responses, Michelle Obama's study of black alumni concludes that black alumni at Princeton did not share her experience of her identity as an educated woman via a black-themed-activity measure. But rather than examine their insights, she expresses dismay that black alumni identify with a common American culture instead of as segregated by the color of their skin. 'I hoped that these findings would help me conclude that despite the high degree of identification with whites as a result of the educational and occupational path that black Princeton alumni follow, the alumni would still maintain a certain level of identification with the black community. However, these findings do not support this possibility.'

Michelle Obama's hypothesis is based on the overarching assumption that integration of successful black graduates with whites implies a loss of identity and community. Moreover, she hoped to prove that a black "separationist" existence within the white community existed as a naturally occurring state, inherently superior to "integrationist" existence, for blacks who transcend socioeconomic and educational barriers in the community via their Princeton degree.

Strangely, Michelle Obama's thesis wanders completely away from being an academic study into expressions of her personal racial frustrations and alienation.

Her self-referential material speculates that her racially separatist frame of reference might lead to her eventually feeling alienated from society. Michelle Obama writes that the path she chose by attending Princeton would likely lead to her 'further integration and/or assimilation into a white cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant.'

Is it any wonder that most black alumni ignored her strange, racist questionnaire?

MICHELLE OBAMA THE BLACK SEPARATIST (part 2 of 2)

Michelle Obama's thesis also makes some conspiracy-themed statements about the black and white students at Princeton, that aren't clearly related to the other material in her thesis. According to Michelle Obama, higher education was intentionally (by design) made more friendly to whites: 'Predominately white universities like Princeton are socially and academically designed to cater to the needs of the white students comprising the bulk of their enrollments.'

Michelle Obama's use of language "designed", "cater" and "bulk of enrollments" implies that Princeton intentionally adapted itself for white students as part of consciously race-based social programming based on majority rule.

Michelle Obama's black separatist sociology thesis provides insight into her perception of the world through the prism not only of race, but a self-consciously racist identity process. Based on a reading of her senior thesis and the focus of her black studies (sociology) major, Michelle Obama was clearly both a student of and an advocate of black separatism.

But Michelle Obama's ideas move beyond just Black Separatism and edge into Black Supremacy, with statements that seem to be value-based action of a racial nature.

'There was no doubt in my mind that as a member of the black community, I am obligated to this community and will utilize all of my present and future resources to benefit the black community first and foremost.'

Michelle Obama stated in her thesis that to 'Whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, she will always be Black first...' However, it was reported by a fellow black classmate, that 'If those 'Whites at Princeton' really saw Michelle as one who always would 'be Black first,' it seems that she gave them that impression'.

Quite frankly, she still gives the impression of being "Black first."

Since graduating, has Michelle Obama kept her Black Separatist/Black Supremacist pledges? Or was this just some left-wing phase she went through in college?

The below are some of the member pledges of the Trinity Church to which the Michelle and Barack Obama have belonged to as active members for 20 years:

...
2. Commitment to the Black Community
3. Commitment to the Black Family
...
9. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the Black Community
10. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions
11. Pledge allegiance to all Black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System
12. Personal commitment to embracement of the Black Value System.

Not only does Trinity Church membership imply a value system for separate black and white societies in America, but it elevates black over white in their world. I.e. it is a personal ethic to hold up blackness as an intrinsic value, and one more valuable to her than that which is not black, consistent with Black Supremacy. And as Rev. Wright revealed in his speaking tour of Washington DC revealed in early March, 2008, he preaches that there are racially themed arguments for segregation, in that he lectures that there are naturally occurring incompatibilities that comprise biological arguments for segregation of blacks from whites, in education, arts and other activities. He recited "studies" to support his arguments that blacks have different brain function from whites.

MIchelle Obama studied and argued for black separatist beliefs in college, and she has been active in a black separatist church for 20 years. Moreover, some of Rev. Wright's rhetoric that is freely available online can be described as anti-white hate speech and wishing ill of America.

The question is, given that the President of the United States and the First Spouse serve ALL Americans, not just those of their own race, Would Michelle Obama, after her lifelong pledges and commitments to serve "Black Community", "Black Institutions" and "Black Value System" be able to be First Lady to white people, too?

Posted by: AsperGirl | June 15, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Democrats have a harder time than Republicans, because they feel the need to balance their talking points with reality. Republicans can say 'America's the best country, we can do wrong, up with freedom, yes to liberty, no to arrogance, homosexuals, and Saddam Hussein!'

... and what are the Democrats going to do? Say yes to Saddam Hussein? No, what they want to say is, despite the fact that Saddam was bad, going into Iraq killed too many people, and didn't make us particularly stronger.

But because America by definition can do no wrong, no national Democrat can say that. They have to blame Maliki's government, or get into tussles about nuking Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Republicans can laugh at this donkey chasing its tail, and start shouting 'No to abortion, yes to death penalty!' when it's their turn again.

Posted by: anticlimacus | June 15, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Obama's only hope to win the election is to avoid all events that will expose his ignorance and incompetence. His margins suffered every time he attended (and lost) a debate with Clinton.

The substance contest this election year will include the following maneuvering:

(1) McCain trying to get as many debates/discussions as possible with Obama not appearing to be evasive in his responses while doing everything he can to avoid all meetings (his 4th of July town hall proposition was a classic);

(2) Obama trying to make as many sweeping and brilliant charges as possible, posturing as a statesman, reciting the positions and ideas of his experts and hoping that the papers will continue to ignore his gaffes (as the WPO has been doing) while arguing on his behalf where possible;

(3) McCain trying to be heard in a vacuum, having discussions with himself, holding meetings with the public, while the pro-Obama media alternatively ignores him and covers his policies/positions only where they can criticize;

(4) Various Democratic pundits keeping up a steady narrative of how brilliant Obama's positions are and how much like Bush McCain is while all of McCain's stark opposition to Bush policies and ideas are ignored by the Democratic pundits and the press; and

(5) The few debates/meetings the two candidates will have are going to be so heavily processed and uselessly question-controlled that they could stay home and just have their replies sent in by writing.

There will be no substance contest in this election cycle, if Obama and the Democrats can help it. It will be all about a bunch of surrogates and media pundits (1) ignoring McCain where he is right (2) trying to poke holes in McCain's ideas and policy addresses from a distance and (3) covering up and concealing Obama's callow ignorance under the expert-produced position speeches.

Posted by: AsperGirl | June 15, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Millions of people on the blogs know that Barack Obama is a figment of his own imagination. When the rest of the world figures it out, he will be history, or rather a footnote in history. gw.

Posted by: Iowatreasures | June 15, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

The town hall format helped McCain because his oppositon where not as articulate as Obama. That said, there is no way any experienced politician, let alone an amatuer one would cross into the lions den and potentially harm his or her campaign. the town hall meetings would have produced little advantage for either side and would only disenfranchise voters further. This should be kept to a natural forum where debate should be before as large a crowd as is the diversity of the USA. To limit it to a few so that they decide the course of the election for the majority of Americans is no different than what major countries in the EU are trying to do right now. Keep it live, and keep it in the majority's right to decide.

Posted by: Tinashe | June 15, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I just saw on Fox News just now, another Obama lie. The report was telling how Obama's father abandoned him when he was two and I have read he didn't see him after that, then his mother remarried and went to Indonesia until he was 10 years old.

Problem with the Fox report was that the picture they were showing of Obama and his father, with his father's arm around Obama, Jr., and Junior was about 8 or 9 years old - not two.

Just another lie - I am sure the 3700 Obama control freak smear breakers will find some unique explanation for that picture. gw.

Posted by: Iowatreasures | June 15, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"the politics arrived" only AFTER Obama responded by proposing a town hall on the 4th of July? Everyone and his brother are remarking how Obama's response was a transparent brush-off.

This confirms it, Cillizza is an Obama media shill. He has crossed over the shameless kool aid line.

Posted by: AsperGirl | June 15, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

McCain is looking for free publicity in asking for ten town hall meetings because he has been unable to generate broad based financial support from donors small or large. Yes, there is a need for some substanative issues forums/debates but they should not all be dictated by McCain and his campaign team.

Posted by: Russ | June 15, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

To Lynne - "Black Liberation Theology"? I think you're beating a horse that's been dead for a million news cycles. Your post answers the question of why Obama doesn't like town halls. They're the best opportunity for the assorted crazies with their conspiracy theories to hijack the discussion.

Posted by: Connie | June 15, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

McCain can't draw a crowd on his own, so why should Obama help him out in this regard? McCain's first town hall meeting was populated by invited supporters of his campaign, and that shows he is dishonest and not to be trusted. The trailing candidate always wants more debates, hoping to inflict some damage on the leading candidate, or that the leader will inflict some damage on himself. Just say, "No," Barack, you can't gain anything by letting McCain dictate the format of the contest.

Posted by: azjim | June 15, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I think Barack is going easy on the old man by not agreeing to this...Cant you just see it now? 10,000 Obama supporters Vs. 300 McCain supporters...We would have the whole venue packed and surrounded...Asking questions to McBush like do you support a measure to make stealing Rx drugs legal? Why did you leave your wife for a younger richer woman? And just how many hookers and strip clubs did you visit during your "wild times" in the Navy.

Posted by: Becky | June 15, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I think the Town Hall format is ideal for both men to answer the questions that are clearly on voter's minds. While Sen. McCain is clearly comfortable with this format, it seems that Sen. Obama would rather rely on large rallies and speaking from a script in order to get his message out. I wonder why. Could it be that Hillary Clinton wiped the floor with him in the Democratic debates? From what I have seen, Sen. Obama seems somewhat uncomfortable speaking off the cuff, with lots of uhs and ums as he struggles to put together a coherent arguement for his candidacy.

I also think he is afraid of some of the questions that could come his way, such as "Do you ascribe to the Black Liberation Theology that is so much a part of Trinity's message?" or "If you don't agree with Trinity's message, why did you support them, both financially and with your membership, for twenty years?" Or even "What in your background, with your extemely thin resume and lack of major legislative accomplishment, makes you believe you are qualified to the the leader of the free world?" How about "As you speak of hope and change, can you detail exactly what it is you hope for, what exactly is the change you so eloquently speak of, and exactly how do you expect to accomplish these things?"

No, I really don't think Sen. Obama wants to have to answer directly to the voters that will demand concrete answers to very specific questions. Why should he, when he has been able to get this far on a very vague message. "You are the ones you have been waiting for" - give me a break! I'm waiting for someone who can turn this country around with concrete policy proposals and is willing to lay out the details needed in order to achieve those goals. Unfortunately, that person suspended her campaign on June 7, 2008.

Posted by: Lynne | June 15, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps they could have no actual audience at all present, only watching the two on television, and have some kind of a moderator that allows just the two to talk most of the time, interfering only briefly.

Posted by: Obama2008 | June 15, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Senator Obama built his campaign on his victory in Iowa, which is all about meeting the voters face-to-face.

So, yes, Senator Obama should have as many town hall forums with Senator McCain as he can.

In a change election, anytime you can get Senator Obama on the same stage with Senator McCain, well, that image alone will go a long way in deciding this campaign.

Posted by: edzo2 | June 15, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

The discussion over Town Halls and debates reveals the different approaches the candidates take toward negotiations.

The Obama campaign is trying to find a compromise that gives them the traditional debates they prefer along with the Town Hall meetings that McCain prefers.

The McCain campaign is saying, "either meet our demands or else!" Kinda like the Bush approach to diplomacy. By the way, how's that working for you, George?

Posted by: JohnB | June 15, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

"Apparently they would rather contrive a political issue than foster a genuine discussion about the future of our country." says Obama's campaign manager.

Well, if Obama had agreed to the town hall meetings, that would have removed any contrived political issue. McCain wouldn't be able to score any political points for Obama not showing up, had Obama showed up.

Obama knows he's weak, and he wants to slide into the Presidency without facing a challenger.

Posted by: hitpoints | June 15, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Yes he has, but on his terms. We have already seen how the McCain campaign lied to fox about the make up of the audience. John McCain doesn't really understand Iraq or the economy so he has to set up these fake town halls with supporters so no one challenges him.

Posted by: Julian | June 15, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

To all you hysterical right-wingers: You're fast making yourselves totally irrelevant. Thanks for not pretending to be even remotely open-minded. Makes it much easier to recognize you for what you truly are...

Posted by: Steve Pan | June 15, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Ah haha, I have to respond to some of the comments by "Iowa Treasures"... svreader renamed?

"The voters have a terrible choice right now - Obama or McCain . I can't think of two worse candidates to be the president of the United States after George Bush."
- Really? I can. Are we limiting ourselves to live people? How about... Cheney? Rumsfeld? Katie Couric? Or were you being theatrical?


"This country is getting more and more worrisome all the time. The elitists, the MSM, the corrupt Chicago Way (Obama/Axelrod) have hijacked the Democratic Party."
-If you said the 'liberal wing' has hijacked the party, I think you could make an argument. But exactly who are "elitists"? People who know how to speak? People who don't pretend like they're from Texas even though they spent their lives in the North East? People who suddenly adopt a "southern accent" and start sipping whiskey when they need votes? And how has the "MSM" (oooooh, the boogeyman!) hijacked anything, except perhaps their own dignity? The voters are responsible for leadership in a democracy.

"Barack Obama is a fraud, a pathological liar - he lies so quickly, it has become second nature to him."
-Well, he is a politician, so let's see what you've got...

"I think he almost believes his own lies. He is an Arab not an African. His father was 87.5% Arab."
- Not only are you a bigot, but I guess you don't believe in elite things like "books". If you check a geography book you'll find that it's called the continent of "Africa", not "Arabia" (there is an area called Arabia from which Obama does not come from). And how, exactly, does someone become 87.5% of any ethnicity? You must have mapped his genome...

"Obama practiced the muslim religion much longer than he admits to - his high school teacher in Hawaii said he was a devout, practicing muslim there."
- One, you should start pretending not to be a bigot. Two, we should believe you why?

"Obama shows his birth certificate but blanks out the Certificate Number. Why? Why is Obama so secretive and deceptive about his ethnicity and religious bent?"
-Nice non-sequitur. Oh, sorry, that's "elite" speak for "you don't know what the hell you're talking about, do you?" If you've heard of identity theft, you would realize why candidates don't reveal their personal identifying numbers- ss#, birth certificate, etc... for people like you to cause problems with them.

"What are we ever going to believe from him if he makes it to the White House. I thought McCain was the worst candidate, but Obama tops him - he is absolutely scary. The other day, in the doctor's office, I heard, time and again, that Obama was scary to them."
-Well that does it, some random people you claim to have met in a doctors office think Obama is a scary black muslim who also coincidentally attends a scary African Christian Church. I'm sold!

"The super delegates should re assess what they are doing. Endorsing Obama doesn't mean that they have to vote that way at the Convention. There is still hope that Obama will self-implode. We sure don't need an inexperienced, angry, immature couple in the White House."
- Right, because the other candidates in this race have proven to be rocks. Clinton cries at 3PM and McCain can't tell the difference between Islamic sects.

"And Obama is the worst candidate in the history of this country. gw."
-Ever heard of James Buchanan? No? Then maybe you shouldn't make stupid statements like "worst candidate in the history of this country." Plus, there's all the pro-slavery candidates in the 1800s... but then, you might think they were pretty good guys, come to think of it.

Posted by: ep thorn | June 15, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

No moderators, or minimal moderation, no 'questions', 4 hour debates, McCain, Obama, Nader, McKinny and Barr, *if I am missing anyone else making a serious attempts at the spot I apologize* 5-10 debates minimum. Every TV network including Cable and the pay for stations. They debate each-other, talking to each-other.

Posted by: Alex35332 | June 15, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Along with Obama's human faults, until the concocts his "corkscrew landing" "runnning because of fear of bullets," event, one cannot say he lied- he must have "misspoke" if perchance he tells A HUGE LIE according to Hillary/Billary standards of campaigning. (courtesy of Billary.) If a candidate can be said to have "misspoken" instead of downright lying, then, Providence knows, no other candidate can ever be said to have lied no matter the circumstances.

Jackie Endres Beatbick@verizon.net

Posted by: Jackie Endres | June 15, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Along with Obama's human faults, until the concocts his "corkscrew landing" "runnning because of fear of bullets," event, one cannot say he lied- he must have "misspoke" if perchance he tells A HUGE LIE according to Hillary/Billary standards of campaigning. (courtesy of Billary.) If a candidate can be said to have "misspoken" instead of downright lying, then, Providence knows, no other candidate can ever be said to have lied no matter the circumstances.

Jackie Endres Beatbick@verizon.net

Posted by: Jackie Endres | June 15, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I believe Obama should and will accept the challenge. However, I'd rather a setup where neither is any more advantageous over the other. Furthermore, people should be screened for their questions, to stick solely on the issues so that we're not stuck with stupid questions that serve as a waste of time; perhaps we could have a moderator make a list of questions that are solely on the issues, and the moderator his/herself ask the questions. Obama's running for presidency, and he will need to be bold to accept challenge. I expect him to do so. I would prefer a balanced setup. However, if Obama accepts McCain's conditions, I believe he can adapt and display competence. I believe he's definitely been made stronger thanks to Hillary. He's got to be tough, but with competence! At the same time, I believe McCain should be equally willing to come out of his element as well. There has got to be some kind of agreement between the two. I'm ready to see some debates.

Posted by: Obama2008 | June 15, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama can't afford to agree to any gig where he doesn't have a prepared speech and a teleprompter. He's shown time and again that he's completely unable to answer questions effectively. Any venue that reveals Obama's lack of depth, character and ability will tarnish the messianic image he's worked so hard to create.

Posted by: Lynn | June 15, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama thinks he can win without answering any questions that he doesn't know ahead of time. He is afraid!! People need
to know the answers as he is a" nobody that came out of nowhere"
for many voters. He thinks he can buy his way into the White House! Obama ___or get off the pot!!
My vote will count!!!

Posted by: brussell | June 15, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Lol I love how the Obama supporters are trying to pump up that town hall meetings are unfair because one McCain event had McCain supporters.

The facr is you know your candidate is an empty suit who is deathly afraid of taking any REAL forum other than scripted debates because he will look like a fool. McCain would run circles around him and make him look like an idiot. It's funny that you can tell by their defenses Obama supporters know this but they're too weak to even admit this to themselves.

Posted by: Cryos | June 15, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama's S. 2433 ....greased skid to Communism


Costs $485 billion ;.. in 4 years, you won't recognize America .

http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=5152

"that the only way to force the U.S. to commit that much
money is by a global tax, such as a tax on fossil fuels [oil, coal, natural gas]." The tax would be imposed not only on their production, but on their use, as well. Among other consequences, Americans would be impoverished for the purpose of reducing poverty abroad by 0.7 percent of the U.S.'s gross domestic product.

The Millennium declaration, reports IBD, also calls for a "currency transfer tax," a "tax on the rental value of land and natural resources," a "royalty on worldwide fossil energy production - oil, natural gas, coal," "fees for the commercial use of the oceans, fees for airplane use of the skies, fees for use of the electromagnetic spectrum, fees on foreign exchange transactions, and a tax on the carbon content of fuels."

finders fees for earmarks to federal legislators is lawful
"Porked: Earmarks for Profit"
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,361061,00.html

Posted by: Bob Fanning | June 15, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

When McCain invited Obama to town halls, he said they would have an audience chosen by an impartial third party. In reality, tickets to the event were distributed to supporters. Even Fox had the courtesy to say so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9979CZ9vII

Posted by: M. | June 15, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Maybe five discussions, nationwide, would be helpful to the voters. The questioners should cut to the chase by knocking off these tireless accusatory personal remarks about both candidates; instead, the people who are doing the questioning should follow up with other questions when either candidate fails to answser the pivotal question posed.

I agree that McCain should not be able to pick the medium or the forum which best showcases his abilities, qualitications, ahhmmmmm!!!! He will, I venture to guess, knock himself off with that tired old, tired old "MY FRIENDS." About as sincere as a tin can. All cr*p and a mile wide.

Jackie Endres

Posted by: Jackie Endres | June 15, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

He should, but only on certain terms. The recent 'town hall' by McCain was stacked. He invited his supporters (Fox news reported that, surprisingly enough). A "townhall" debate is completely worthless as it is currently configured in politics. It used to be that a town hall debate was the most dynamic of engagements; now, it is the most scripted. During the Bush-Kerry debates the Bush team demanded that if an audience member deviated from his or her pre-screened line, they be cut off from the mic (On the Media with Bob Garfield... today's podcast I think). That is the most ridiculous type of pageantry and should not be engaged in... it's an insult to the collective intellects of Americans (at least I hope it's an insult)

If, on the other hand, the audience is given free-range to ask questions (the audience could be screened beforehand to weed out the nuts... perhaps put some real experts in there who can ask pointed questions) and follow-ups, as McCain says he likes, then it could actually be an improvement on the current way of 'debating' and Obama should agree to some, if not all of them (after all, why should he agree to so many when his best venue is the stump speech?).

If, on the other hand, McCain's campaign insists on the style where the 'townhall' is basically turned into a side-by-side scripted repetition of talking points, Obama should out him on it and be done with it.

Posted by: ep thorn | June 15, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Obama intends to "coast" to the convention and to avoid getting involved in anything that is not scripted where he may say something negative; then he will have to explain what he really meant, blah blah blah. You know the drill.

Posted by: Harry | June 15, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Political charlatan, Barrack Obama, has convinced his robotic followers that Obama can meet with Ahmejinedad without precondition; and, that the Iranian leader will experience an Obama epiphany and conversion to righteousness; and, "There Will Be Peace In Our Time". This is the very same Neville Obama who, because he frequently babbles incoherently when attempting to speak without a prepared text, is terrified of being exposed by meeting John McCain in a simple Town-Hall Forum. God help us if the majority of Americans are beguiled by this novice circus comic, who has never before performed under the "Big Tent"; and, the peddling of his "Magic Elixir " that Obama claims will "Heal The Planet". Greg Neubeck

Posted by: Greg Neubeck | June 15, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

There should be a broadrange of formats for the OBAMA/MCCAIN debates. The American people need to see both candidates discuss the issues in different formats so they can make an informed decision. Limiting the debates to just town hall meetings is shortchanging the American voters along with other viewers around the world who want to see them in different settings...

Posted by: Johnny K | June 15, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I would rather have four years of McCain, and then eight years of Hillary Clinton, than four or eight years of Barack Obama. Obama is not presidential material.

Obama is a puppet of John Kerry,
Elizabeth Heinz Kerry,
Edward Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Antoin Rezko/Auchi/Saddam Hussein, as well as Tom Daschle, Bill Richardson, Clyburne, and Jesse Jackson.

Obama is a smooth talker and has nothing else to offer. He flip flops on every association he has - defending, denouncing, offending - but they were assocites for 20 years - Rezko/Auchi/Saddam Hussein; William Ayers/Dohrn; Rev. Wright; Michelle Robinson (Obama) her parents and the Mayor Daley corrupt Chicago Way.

Obama's loyalties are clear - his rhetoric is just a cover up for the change he really plans to bring to Washington. His bad associations tell what he really intends to do - and it isn't pretty. He will throw all of us under the bus for his muslim ties. He said, in his book that he would side with the muslims if things got ugly. Michelle also said Barack is not going to let us stay in our comfort zone. Barack says we are going to eat less and drive less.

No wonder the people in the doctor's office are saying Obama is scary. He is. And his wife, Michelle, is even more so. gw.

Posted by: Iowatreasures | June 15, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Right now, Obama is leading on all fronts in the polls. McCain seems creepy and out of his element on every topic except national security, a topic on which Americans are burned out. Therefore, given that debate is such a strong suit for Obama, and given that the election seems to be his to lose for now, he can afford to bide his time for a little bit and wait for an offer from McCain that he finds agreeable.

Posted by: mobedda | June 15, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

For what? McCain needs Obama not the other way around. Mc is trying to ge tfree air time. Who the hell do they think they are trying to set Obama's agenda? If I was Obama, I would tell McCain to go to hell. Republican's think they slick, always trying to pull a fast one.

Posted by: Antoine | June 15, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

It's clear that McCain's handlers haven't been paying much attention to the scope and tenor of the Obama campaign. The old days and old ways are over, in no small part due to the current administration's long track record of lying, then lying about lying.
I think a large majority of the american electorate has been burned enough, and is reading between the lines (or lies) now. Common sense tells them that McCain is too old, too entrenched, and likely unable to cope with the times. We all know the issues, and McCain's droll attempt to "discuss" his positions are falling on deaf ears.
This election isn't going to be decided on issues--the question will be whether or not America is brave enough to follow its own rhetoric and judge these candidates on their merits.

Posted by: Steve Pan | June 15, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Sure, the "town hall meeting would have been a little more interesting" if Obama accepted McCain's proposal for a record ten appearances. That's a given considering the excitement deficit in the Republican campaign. But McCain has fallen into the same trap constricting the Clinton campaign: If you want something from Obama, attempting to force his hand is an automatic nonstarter.

Recent history shows Obama knows his tit for tat, particularly when his brand has a home court advantage.

Obama could, but won't, reply that there is no reason to let McCain borrow a spotlight he doesn't come by naturally. The response will likely be more nuanced, something like, "Sure, we'll be glad to help you out and glad to let the country see the differences between us. Here's our proposal and availability. Let's see what we can work out." McCain will protest, Obama will repeat, McCain will ultimately agree. He needs the attention Obama generates.

Ultimately, McCain rejects reason at his peril. It is Obama's spotlight, it's his court. If McCain needs the exposure more than the imagined political points, he'll agree to a reasonable compromise. Otherwise he runs the risk of looking like a beggar.

Posted by: Karen H. | June 15, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

The voters have a terrible choice right now - Obama or McCain . I can't think of two worse candidates to be the president of the United States after George Bush.

This country is getting more and more worrisome all the time. The elitists, the MSM, the corrupt Chicago Way (Obama/Axelrod) have hijacked the Democratic Party. Barack Obama is a fraud, a pathological liar - he lies so quickly, it has become second nature to him. I think he almost believes his own lies. He is an Arab not an African. His father was 87.5% Arab. Obama practiced the muslim religion much longer than he admits to - his high school teacher in Hawaii said he was a devout, practicing muslim there.

Obama shows his birth certificate but blanks out the Certificate Number. Why? Why is Obama so secretive and deceptive about his ethnicity and religious bent?

What are we ever going to believe from him if he makes it to the White House. I thought McCain was the worst candidate, but Obama tops him - he is absolutely scary. The other day, in the doctor's office, I heard, time and again, that Obama was scary to them.

The super delegates should re assess what they are doing. Endorsing Obama doesn't mean that they have to vote that way at the Convention. There is still hope that Obama will self-implode. We sure don't need an inexperienced, angry, immature couple in the White House.

And Obama is the worst candidate in the history of this country. gw.

Posted by: Iowatreasures | June 15, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

No one covers his town hall meetings they are not news. He is an invisible candidate. All he want to be reverent is by having Obama on the stage, because no one cares about what he has to say.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

What a who cares issue debating about debating. And all this five months before the election. By the election no one would have a clue what the debates were even about. Obama will do his thing in his own time and Mccain can stumble around talking to 200 people at a time at his town hall meetings that no one cares about. Mccain actually thinks this is an issue? He better worry about getting his campaign on track and mobilized instead of this goofy stuff. Ten debates, what is he crazy? What does he think they are going to say different after the first two. Somebody better tell him this is not 1865, when they do debate the whole country see it all at once they don't need ten. If he wants to do his town hall meetings he needs to try buying some air time and not trying to suck off the attraction and appeal of Obama.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Yes I think that Obama/MCain should have at least a few of these Townhall meetings where they discuss the issues mano a mano, and take questions from a balanced audience. I am confident that such discussions will take place when Obama feels that it is most advantageous to do so. Any talk of Obama "refusing" to debate McCain is preposterous by the way....I believe that if the Candidates stick to the real issues: the economy, the war, etc., Americans will be able to grasp the difference in ideology between the 2. The last "debate" between Obama and Clinton was absurd with almost the full first hour taken up with extraneous stuff, and off topic canards. If a series of Town Halls between Obama and McCain can avoid this sort of cr*p I think that these meetings will be illuminating indeed.

Posted by: Hold_That_Tiger | June 15, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Do 1/2 of what Obama has already suggested, and 1/2 of what McCain said he wants. Done.

Posted by: Rose | June 15, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The focus needs to be on the citizens and not the campaigns.

A few years ago, The PBS NewsHour created a special project called "By the People" in which a random sample of citizens in various cities across the country would meet together in a structured format and deliberate on "America's Role in the World" (See www.pbs.org/newshour/btp/ ). This was modeled after the 1996 "National Issues Convention" where a random sample of Americans gathered in Austin, Texas and met in groups to consider public policy topic and then question the presidential candidates.

Past history shows that in order for these townhall forums to be an effective exercise, the participants must meet together in advance and discuss the issues using non partisan briefing materials. There are ample topics to choose from at the National Issues Forums Institute Website ( www.nifi.org ). Moreover, you need neutral conveners to ensure a fair process so that is where "By the People" and the National Issues Forums network could be useful.


--
John W. Cavanaugh, Ph.D.
President & CEO
CROSS CULTURAL COMMUNICATIONS, LLC
www.crossculturalcomm.com

Posted by: John - Columbus, OH | June 15, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Why on earth should Obama offer McCain an opportunity for comparison in the only type of environment where McCain might stand a chance? THe reward for Obabma (McCain looking old and not as sharp as he) is already well established, so why risk any damage to that? Personally, I don't think McCain can compete with Obama in any format, but after that godawful speech the other night, I'd be inclined to keep McCain right where he is.

Posted by: Spike | June 15, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I think he should agree to as many town hall meetings with McCain as his schedule allows. It shows he is willing to take on McCain face to face on what's important to the voters. It also lets us know that Obama is not afraid to back down even though this kind of set-up seems to favor McCain's oratory style. Although I'm a strong Obama supporter, I have to admit that debating is not his best rhetorical strength (but he's improved tremendously coming out of the primaries against Clinton). I actually got to see Obama speak in a town hall meeting at my school and he was still as inspiring as he is at huge rallies. These debates on the issues would help both candidates clearly define and outline their views to the electorate. I hope McCain & Obama can reach agreements on where & when to meet!

Posted by: FLforObama | June 15, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

One-on-one 90 minute debates on various topics would serve everyone much better. Each candidate gets 45 minutes total: one on health care; one on the environment; one on foreign policy; etc.

This allows a broad discussion on topics with back and forth and follow-up. "Town hall" forums leave answers too short for substance. They also leave open stacking of the crowd.


John McCain Wants To Overturn Roe v. Wade

Posted by: Hilltopper | June 15, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

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