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It's Unlikely That Town Halls Will Happen

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McCain wanted 10. Obama proposed 1 plus an additional debate.

To say the least, I’m disappointed in the Obama camp.

And so the campaigns do battle…:

“We fear that our negotiations over joint town hall meetings are turning into a debate about process,” McCain campaign manager Rick Davis writes to Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. “That is exactly what we have always hoped to avoid, and why we proposed a town hall format that would render many of these process issues moot. As Sen. Obama has said, he is prepared to meet ‘anywhere, anytime’ for a town hall.”

Plouffe responds that “it’s disappointing that Sen. 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.”

Now, there’s a reason why McCain proposed these town halls, and it isn’t because he thinks it would be good for the country. McCain has been doing this type of open format for years and he’s incredibly adept at it. Still, his campaign has done a great job of positioning it as a grand, transparent gesture, and in many ways it could turn into that if Obama agrees to the format.

That’s why I think Obama and company are making a big tactical mistake by turning down the town hall format. Sure, it would limit their campaigning, and I get why they wouldn’t want to do that, but it makes it seem like he’s afraid of going toe-to-toe in an unscripted format with McCain. And do know that his campaign is afraid. Obama has done many unscripted town halls in this campaign cycle, and it’s apparent that he doesn’t necessarily shine in this type of venue. But is that a good enough reason to deny the American public a conversation they deserve? Not by a long shot.

However, this isn’t decided quite yet. Right now we’re seeing the expected war of words and there’s still a chance that they’ll come to some sort of compromise. For everybody’s sake, let’s hope that happens.

More as it develops…