Obama campaign manager David Plouffe:

“Barack Obama offered to meet John McCain at five joint appearances between now and Election Day—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 era—offering a broad range of formats—and representing a historic commitment to openness and transparency.

“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.

“Senator Obama believes that the American people deserve an open and accessible debate as they choose between real change and four more years of failed Bush policies, and he welcomed McCain’s invitation to offer voters ‘the rare opportunity of witnessing candidates for the highest office in the land discuss civilly and extensively the great issues at stake in the election."

Clearly, Obama did not want to committ to a series of pre-convention joint town halls. Too much time away from campaigning -- it's a big country and there are lots of places to go, too much prep time, too much schedule disruption. And, truth be told, McCain is better at these kinds of events than Obama is.

5 events would be, I believe, the most since 1960.

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