John McCain, the US senator and presumptive
Republican candidate for president, Wednesday challenged Senator Barack Obama
to a 10-debate series - and even appeared to have already booked a hall for the
first one on June 12.
The challenge came a day after Obama, 46, of Illinois, clinched the Democratic Party's nomination.
McCain, 71, of Arizona, made the public overture at a news conference in the southern state of Louisiana. He called for open town hall-type meetings that would allow questions from audiences ranging from 200 to 400 people.
Obama's campaign campaign manager David Plouffe said in an e- mailed response that the idea was appealing and was "one of many items" on the candidate's agenda in the coming days, Bloomberg financial news service reported.
McCain said the meetings should be one a week leading up to the formal centre-left Democratic nominating convention that begins August 25 in Denver, Colorado.
The Republican convention follows in St Paul, Minnesota, from September 1 to 4.
McCain called such meetings "the oldest form of democracy in America," yet they would offer the American people "a new kind of debate."
McCain attributes his comeback win in New Hampshire in January to 102 town hall meetings he held there.
The Republican candidate also proposed that he and Obama travel together on by plane to the various meetings, to continue their dialogue, dpa reported.