Obama agrees to 3 debates with McCain

August 2, 2008

baracl.jpgORLANDO, Fla. – Democrat Barack Obama agreed on Saturday to a formal proposal for three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate, effectively scuttling Republican White House rival John McCain’s hopes for a series of one-on-one town hall meetings.
 
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe informed the Commission on Presidential Debates of the decision, which proposed the schedule, in a letter. Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel will represent the campaign in talks on the format and details.
 
The late conventions and short period before the first debate — the Republican convention ends on Sept. 4 and the first debate is scheduled for Sept. 26 — made it “likely” the four debates proposed by the commission “will be the sole series of debates in the fall campaign,” Plouffe wrote.
 
McCain had suggested the two candidates could appear together at a series of town-hall meetings, but negotiations between the two sides never produced an agreement.
 
The McCain campaign used the decision to take another poke at Obama’s “celebrity” image.
 
“We understand it might be beneath a worldwide celebrity of Barack Obama’s magnitude to appear at town hall meetings alongside John McCain and directly answer questions from the American people, but we hope he’ll reconsider,” spokesman Brian Rogers said.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Scott Audette (Obama laughs alongside Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League in Orlando, Florida, on Aug. 2, 2008)

23 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

McCain has sold his soul to the devil.

Posted by ericmiami | Report as abusive

Obama fears non-scripted events and knows that McCain would make him look amateurish. Its a calculated decision by the Obama campaign, but it looks like it is going to hurt him by running away from public debates.

Posted by Marko | Report as abusive

Without teleprompters , Obama is usually lost for words.
However to shy away from a town hall meeting with your opponent ,raises serious questions .
Obama has no core values , hence his ability to flip flop all over the place.
This man would be an absolute disaster , should he become President.

Posted by Isabella | Report as abusive

The fact is McCain is pushing for a townhall meeting with Barack just to see how it feels to speak to a sea of adoring fans that will come see Obama. He can only imagine what that is like! Obama is very deep and speaks of things that go over the heads of shallow people who think like McCain. That is why you don’t “get” his drift. McCain is shallow so Obama haters fit right in with his petty nit-picking of Barack in place of meaningful dialogue.

Posted by Beth TX | Report as abusive

Why would a great orator and master of rhetoric deny a bumbling old man his desire to do one-on-one town hall meetings? Could it possibly be that that bubbling old man has knowledge of what he talks about, however bumbling his speech may be, and Obama requires pre-written knowledge to perform his feats of oratory? If Obama was truly a great orator and had any knowledge is what he speaks of, he would feel quite comfortable doing noon-rehearsed town meetings. But hard-hitting questions from John McCain and the attendees of such meetings would not be moderated and without rehearsal or a teleprompter, Obama is little more than a shell. The man has no substance, no knowledge, no experience to draw upon.
While I have no idea what “McCain has sold his soul to the devil” means, I know that hate or like the man McCain knows what he talks about. Though his policies may be questionable, he is drawing on some sort of knowledge. What does Obama feel he can pull from as far as knowledge bank goes?….on the economy, I feel he has no past that leads him to any worthwhile judgment on how to fix it(though any knowledge is hardly necessary, as the president is hardly an economic policy maker in any capacity) on the war, opposing something you know nothing about is profound. I disagree with the war in Iraq and agree with the war in Afghanistan, but one must admit that both are happening whether you like them or not…and some knowledge is required to know how best to make each war a success, however one might define success. If mcCain has sold his soul to the devil, he will win president in November in a landslide. if the absolutely unqualified person wins, does that mean he sold his soul to the devil or does it just mean that white people were ok with a black president no matter what he brought(or didn’t bring) to the table…I figure Barack is the Devil so there is a greater chance that the great orator just talked McCain into giving him his soul instead of having to buy it.

Posted by karlthomas | Report as abusive

Beth Tx

As your post dictates your level of understanding, I am happy to assume that the “Tx” stands for Texas and thus, you opinion has no bearing what-so-ever.
It seems ridiculous to believe that , quoting you, “the fact is McCain is pushing for a townhall meeting with Barack just to see how it feels to speak to a sea of adoring fans that will come see Obama.”,this concept makes any rational sense. It seems the more likely conclusion would be a relative understanding that Obama has no substance and thus, talking without script could prove fatal to his elections hopes. It is not a question as to WHY McCAIN WOULD CALL FOR THESE TOWN MEETINGS?, as you suggest…but much more a question of WHY WOULD OBAMA NOT WANT TO INCLUDE HIMSELF IN THESE MEETINGS? He is obviously the better speaker…it is simply a matter of the better speaker having nothing to say without a script, and the bumbling speaker having a cornucopia of knowledge to draw on at the drop of a hat.

Posted by karlthomas | Report as abusive

Obama wants to avoid the trap that the Republicans would be setting at Town Hall Meetings. They are the most underhanded group in American society and can’t be trusted. There would be operatives planted to embarrass Obama with rude and denigrating questions that a organized debate would preclude. I wouldn’t buy a car from the Republican Wheel, nevermind ask me questions in a debate.

Posted by gil | Report as abusive

P.S. To you post-ers who are talking about unscripted events. We just endured 8 years of a President who seldom had Q&A’s with the press because he couldn’t even talk about the weather without trying to read from a script. Time and time again, Republicans are the “Pot Calling the Kettle Black” and they don’t like the kettle because it IS black!!!!

Posted by gil | Report as abusive

so you compare obama to bush for his lack of ability to talk unscripted…well hell, then McCain surely is the better choice…Why would we want 8 more years of Bush…
?

Posted by karlthomas | Report as abusive

It would have been interesting to see how Obama coped without a script – but I guess his carefully cultivated celebrity messiah image is a ploy to ensure his fans yell so loud at public appearances nobody can tell he’s talking bollocks.

Obama is the better speaker and has much better solutions than the old republican Bush/Cheney dogma which is all that McCain has to offer. I’m sure McCain will harp on his experience against Obama’s which is only saying that McCain is a deeply entrenched Bushie and can only offer more of the last 8 years. Do you really want more of the last 8 years? I don’t. I don’t think we can afford it.

Obama is all about CHANGE which is what this country desperately needs and that means trying new things in new ways. I don’t care that he doesn’t have all the years of Washington experience that equates to political favors that drag McCain down. I want someone like Obama who is full of fresh ideas and not beholding to rich big business lobbyists. McCain is deep, deep, in the pockets of lobbyists and owes his political life to the old tried and failed republican ways. He can’t change to save his life.

I want someone who will break our dependence on Arab oil, who will empower our economy to grow, who will attempt to right Bush’s national deficit, who will disengage our troops from quagmire fruitless wars, who will fight against big medical interests for our health care, who will address global warming issues, and on and on, on so many important issues that our past republican leadership has totally ignored. Whether you are a conservative racist prejudiced against black men or not, Obama is our nations only hope for the future of our children. McCain will only be McBush the same with the same old problems.

Vote Obama, vote for freedom, vote for America!

Posted by BushGuiltyAsSin | Report as abusive

McCain cannot match Obama on any platform of debates. He and his supporters are merely and immaturely jealous of the crowds that Obama is able to draw, simply because of the message of change that he brings. You can tell of the intelligence level of McCain and his supporter who put out that portraying Obama as a celebrity. Fact – Obama is a celebrity. So too was Arnold Swarzenegger, Clint Eastwood and many others who ran for public office. Are we to believe that republicans are saying that celebrities should not run for public office?

A vote for McCain is vote for Bush. A vote for Obama is a vote for change. Lets see how intelligent Americans are….

Posted by michael blagrove | Report as abusive

Furthermore, Obama is known to for having the ability to speak unscripted. McCain even has ability reading from the teleprompter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And you have the nerve to questions Obama\’s eloquence? Republicans have hit an all time on cynicism.

Posted by michael blagrove | Report as abusive

SPOILER ALERT – The McCAIN Camp is already looking to pack the “townhall” format his way, just as he ALREADY got busted out doing on the old FOX SPEW channel.
—————————————-
KEEP “Married to the Maffia” McCain OUT OF OUR HOUSE!
http://wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&am p;pageId=57354
http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2000-02-1 7/news/haunted-by-spirits/full
http://www.azcentral.com/news/specials/m ccain/articles/0301mccainbio-chapter6.ht ml
http://www.thehistorychannel.co.uk/site/ tv_guide/full_details/Crime/programme_22 99.php

Posted by Sam Smith | Report as abusive

Obama is nothiong but empty rhetoric and therefore, will not agree to a substantive debate with McCain.

I challenge all you Obama cultists out there to provide one example of an Obama talking point that is lucid and salient, and not just a vauge mish mash of nothingisms.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

i don’t even want to waste my time talking to you liberal morons but obama is an idiot and he is scared to go head to head with mccain because mccain will make him look stupid. plain and simple. you idiot liberals are so brainwashed its funny.

Posted by MIKE | Report as abusive

Wow, salient point there, MIKE. Did you think of those big words by yourself or pull them from John McCain’s ‘Big Book of 5th Grade Taunts’? I’m glad to see that election season brings out carefully constructed and well thought out arguments.

John McCain’s goal this election is to drag the celebrity spotlight away from Obama. A town hall would be an obvious way to do it; jam it with supporters (just like a Bush press conference) and rely on pity one-liners to get maximum press from sound bites. Obama would like more formal settings to keep the background noise to a minimum to allow an eloquent message to be heard.

As for vague or high-minded messages, is that not what the President should be presenting? The Executive branch does not create legislation; they can only provide the bully pulpit to help shape it. Who better to do that than a communicator instead of an adolescent bully? We’re living with eight years of a poor communicator in the White House and the resulting failure in achieving key legislation (SS reform, immigration reform, energy reform, trade talks, diplomacy, etc etc etc). At least the big Bush donors got to make big money while creating a massive deficit.

If you really want to talk about a lack of substance, let’s talk about the current administration.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Wow – I do appreciate the didactic thinking of thoughts like karlthomas’ post. But most of the rest of this was skimmed over as a waste of time – it’s a little disgusting how the comment-sections on an election related article are used as an opportunity for emotional taunting.
A reminder for all: it is very difficult to quantify someone’s off-the-cuff debate skills – and therefore, very difficult to compare the impromptu debate skills of two people (candidates). That’s why debate teams have to actually debate instead of being awarded for reputation. And that’s why it does leave unanswered questions when one candidate pursues a much higher level of open debates than the other.
Rhetoric on the other hand, is probably not vital to performance as a successful president. Throughout history, however, it has denoted a measure of education and wisdom that, probably would be.
Of course, the comment has already been made that the incumbent president was never very good at it. But that doesn’t keep Republicans from being able to criticize the (perceived) lesser of two candidates (directed at you, gil). The worst US president of all time (Wall Street Journal, both ratings in last 8 years) was a Dem (Buchanan)… and of the bottom 8, only 1 is Rep (Harding), and 2 Whigs (so no Whigs should get to complain either!), the balance being Dem (Buchanan, Pierce, Johnson, Tyler, Carter). The incumbent president actually made #19 of 40.
Maybe Americans would be better off with independent, educated and rational evaluations of candidates rather than bandwagon jumping solely for the chance to ridicule someone.

Posted by arg26516 | Report as abusive

I’m glad Obama is finally taking McCain on one-on-one. He’s definitely the better speaker with better values. This will show the stark contrast. Obama is confident and carries himself well, he also has enough practice. Vote for Obama!! Visit WHYOBAMA08.org!!

Posted by Aiken Blue | Report as abusive

Obama is playing this very tactically. He’s smart not to give McCain more facetime than he needs to. How dare McCain call Obama a “celebrity” when McCain fails to mention that he was in “Wedding Crashers”. It seems to me that McCain is desperate to hold onto what little credibility he has left.

Posted by JB | Report as abusive

Mike…I imagine it was easier to attack his use of “bigger than expected” words than to actually respond to the post…once again, in words you may understand, I challenge those who follow Obama to provide one example of an Obama talking point that is coherent and plausible, and not just an empty shell to drum up support from his mindless followers. Remember when McCain and Hillary came up with the ridiculous idea to have a gas tax holiday. Yes, an absolutely idiotic idea that would drain our highway system budget and force allocation of funds away from other programs to be used on highways and bridges that would have been funded by the gas tax.
So the $1000 Obama plans to give out that is funded by “Big Oil” isn’t just a political ploy? Good god, even you stupid liberals have got to see that big oil exists as a private industry and thus, if the government taxes them, they will find a way to continue to make their 8.3% they have been making since 1950. while their profit amount was high, the amount they spent was proportional to that of the last 50 years. $1000 dollars in your pocket now results in an equal jump in the price at the pump….if you can do the job for less than they charge and turn a bigger profit, then go right ahead…until then, we rely on them and subsequent innovation. Vote smart, not change. Don’t vote for McCain, vote against Obama.

Posted by karlthomas | Report as abusive

Amazing the amount of hatred thrown around, and you wonder why the candidates only know how to bash one another. It is a lot easier to try to bring someone else down than it is to point out the positive strides you could possibly make. I do not think we will see progress in this election because people seem to be voting only by how much they dislike the other candidate. As for the comments, not all Republicans are a certain way and Democrats another. Bashing a party is similar to the way certain other countries hate Americans, because they view them as all one way. While I do believe we have some prejudice, I do not think most of the people voting against Obama do so because he is black. Such a claim only shows your own racism/prejudices. He obviously overcame that hurdle by becoming the Democratic nominee. As for Obama resolving our dependence on foreign oil, he’s not. If you listened to him he said in 10 years we could be. In 10 years he will no longer be eligible to be president as the maximum 2 terms/8 years is past. He will pass that issue to the next political candidate to resolve. I would love to have our own sources, though, because I think as we give money to the East for oil they are laughing at us because we basically are funding their next terrorist attack against us. I think both candidates have good and poor qualities and intentions I like. Problem is not seeing people make good on their campaign promises once elected as well as their being blocked by Congress or even foreign diplomacy. No one person can solve all the world’s problems or even all of them in our own country. I am sure when things don’t happen as people want or as quickly as they want, they will claim if the other person was elected it would be different. My decision will likely be made by whom I think can keep taxes and costs down.

Posted by GHS | Report as abusive

Hey Whitesides,
Thanks for the unbiased reporting.
“That margin reversed Obama’s 4-point edge last month on the economy over McCain, an Arizona senator and former Vietnam prisoner of war who has admitted a lack of economic expertise and shows far greater interest in foreign and military policy.”
Nice try on trying to sway the “undecided”s

Posted by GAJ | Report as abusive