WASHINGTON--Presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) steps up his call for one-on-one town hall debates--with no moderator--with rival Sen.Barack Obama (D-Ill.) during a speech Tuesday here to a small business conference.
After being heckled and booed, McCain brought up the town halls. The Obama team--not crazy about how the primary debates turned out--more about the moderators than the candidates--is considering the offer.
Said McCain, "And as you may have heard, Senator Obama and I might -- and I hope -- will be meeting soon in a series of town hall discussions -- just the two of us, in direct conversation with the voters. No need to turn it into a big media-run production with process questions from reporters, a spin room and all the rest of it.
"Just to keep things friendly, I also suggested that my opponent and I travel to these town hall meetings together in the same plane. I promise not to try to fly it. So -- so we need the town hall meeting. You just saw the example. Let's stop -- let's stop yelling at each other. Let's stop having sound bites and process questions and those things.
"The American people want a respectful and civilized discussion. And who knows better -- who knows better how to ask those questions and express their hopes and dreams and aspirations but citizens of this country, particularly those in small business?"
McCain also hit Obama for his call to revisit NAFTA.
"Unfortunately Senator Obama has a habit of talking down the value of our exports and trade agreements. He even proposed a unilateral renegotiation of NAFTA, our agreement with Canada and Mexico that accounts for 33 percent of American exports. We have a sharp disagreement here that I look very much forward to debating," McCain said.