ORLANDO, 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.
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)