On Barnes and Town Halls

Out of over twenty debates that Barack Obama has participated in, he has yet to come away with a decisive victory. John McCain, aiming to capitalize on his political foe’s weakness, recently challenged Obama to participate in ten town halls this summer. Fred Barnes argues on The Weekly Standard‘s The Blog that Obama’s political cowardice prevents him from accepting McCain’s town hall proposal. Barnes has a point: McCain is best when he’s spontaneous, while Obama has struggled in such situations. In his words:

So why wouldn’t Senator Bring-Us-Together jump enthusiastically at the opportunity? Several reasons, all political. Obama figures he’s going to win because of the strong Democratic tide and doesn’t want to offer opportunities for Republicans to lay a glove on him. Also, he’s not particularly good at town hall gatherings–spontaneity is not his thing–but McCain is at his best at such sessions. And Obama would rather give set speeches, at which he’s terrific, than take questions that might force him to deal with things (Rev. Wright, Tony Rezko, etc.) he’d rather not talk about.

Barnes is correct, but incomplete. McCain is lagging far behind Obama in money. As Jennifer Rubin says, “for a weakly-financed campaign it would be manna from heaven to have the networks covering the road show,” i.e., free press coverage that accurately contrasts the two presidential candidates might be McCain’s only hope to close the ever-growing gap.

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On Barnes and Town Halls

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