Obama campaign not crazy about town hall debate format

Why am I not surprised?

The McCain camp proposed to Obama a series of 10 town hall meetings to take place each week before the Democrat National Convention. The Obama camp balked, saying they were only interested in doing one town hall debate with the others being the more traditional format (which would, of course, favor him). Ben Smith reports:

The talks between the McCain and Obama campaigns on debates appear to have broken down, with Obama’s campaign — evidently concluding that the format could favor McCain, or at least give McCain some oxygen — offering just one town hall and one extra debate in response to McCain’s suggestion of 10.

“We fear that our negotiations over joint town hall meetings are turning into a debate about process,” writes McCain campaign manager Rick Davis 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 Senator Obama has said, he is prepared to meet ‘anywhere, anytime’ for a town hall.”

Plouffe responds that “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.”

UPDATE: The single town hall Obama agreed to would be on the Fourth of July weekend, a guarantee of a small audience that McCain spokesman Brian Rogers referred to as a “total joke.”

Here’s the full BO proposal on debates:

“Barack Obama offered to meet John McCain at five joint appearances between now and Election Dayβ€”the three traditional debates plus a joint town hall on the economy in July and an in-depth debate on foreign policy in August. That package of five engagements would have been the most of any Presidential campaign in the modern eraβ€”offering a broad range of formatsβ€”and representing a historic commitment to openness and transparency.”

Ah. Don’t you love the flair for the dramatic in their responses? “historic commitment to openness and transparency”? Who writes this junk? Andrew Sullivan?

Anyway, I think we all know why Obama’s not too keen on the town hall format style, because as we’ve seen before (scroll), he doesn’t do so well when things are so tightly scripted and sounds far from the rhetorical genius his supporters think he is.

In related Barry O. news, turns out Obama’s not the only Democrat Senator who has close ties to the evil Countrywide Financial Corp. Portfolio reports that Senators Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad got a cushy loan deal through something called the “VIP” program. Heh. Guess it “pays” and pays well to be a US Senator …

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