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McCain challenges Obama to town hall debates

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  • Sen. John McCain challenges Sen. Barack Obama to 10 town-hall debates
  • He calls for "no process questions from reporters" and "no spin rooms"
  • McCain suggests he and his rival travel together to the first one
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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (CNN) -- Sen. John McCain challenged Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday to join him for a series of 10 town-hall debates.

Calling for "no process questions from reporters" and "no spin rooms," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee proposed one debate a week from now until the Democratic party convention in August.

McCain cited a 1963 agreement between President Kennedy and Sen. Barry Goldwater to hold such debates as part of the 1964 election campaign. Kennedy was assassinated before the campaign began.

"What a welcome change it would be were presidential candidates in our time to treat each other and the people they seek to lead with respect and courtesy as they discussed the great issues of the day, without the empty sound bites and media-filtered exchanges that dominate our elections," McCain said in a letter to Obama released by McCain's campaign.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe welcomed the idea in principle but suggested some changes to the format.

"The idea of joint town halls is appealing and one that would allow a great conversation to take place about the need to change the direction of this country," he said in a statement released by the Obama campaign.

"We would recommend a format that is less structured and lengthier than the McCain campaign suggests, one that more closely resembles the historic debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. But, having just secured our party's nomination, this is one of the many items we will be addressing in the coming days and look forward to discussing it with the McCain campaign."

McCain also suggested that he and his rival travel together to the first debate as a symbolic gesture. Video Watch McCain challenge Obama to town hall meetings »

He joked that his campaign would appreciate the budget savings. "Given our expenses, I know my campaign would agree to it," McCain said to laughter from the crowd.

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Obama has raised tens of millions of dollars more than McCain for his White House run.

Regular debates could help McCain compensate for Obama's fundraising success by providing him with regular free media exposure.

All About U.S. Presidential ElectionJohn McCainBarack Obama

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