Republican presidential nominee John McCain challenged his presumptive rival, Democrat Barack Obama, to a series of about 10 town hall–style debates, beginning next week. McCain proposed informal debates without a high-profile moderator, where the two candidates would field questions from audience members. Obama's campaign called the idea "appealing," but said it would need to negotiate the logistics. (New York Daily News)
What the commentators said
“Let’s take a little breather before we rush into the endless town-meeting period,” said Gail Collins in The New York Times. It’s only fair after we’ve been forced to endure “the endless debate period, and the endless primary period.” But, after McCain’s dreadful speech Tuesday night, it’s easy to understand why he’s “begging” for the chance to “fill up the summer” with the only forum he’s good at.
"Are town hall meetings really good for McCain?" said Ben Armbruster in the blog Think Progress. He credits his 102 town halls in New Hampshire for saving his campaign, but he doesn't always exactly "shine" in the format. His town halls so far have produced his 100-years-in-Iraq gem and the unforgettable "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran."
“McCain’s in great shape for a 71-year-old who spent five years getting tortured by the Viet Cong,” said James Joyner in the blog Outside the Beltway, “but ten multi-hour debates might be a little much for him. And, if not him, certainly the viewing public.” But “more debates are better than fewer”—especially if they are unscripted affairs. And fortunately, Obama and McCain both have “a natural aversion to mud-slinging” and a preference for sticking to the issues.
If McCain has his heart set on this town-hall meeting proposal, said Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic, he should have waited a few weeks before issuing his challenge. He’s been the presumptive Republican nominee for weeks, but Obama just sealed the Democratic spot, so he has “a good excuse to delay negotiations.”