Tonight was the first in a much-hyped series of 'town hall' forums scheduled by John McCain's campaign, in which Barack Obama had been challenged to show up to discuss the issues directly with the GOP nominee.
Except, as Fox News reported, McCain's campaign misled the public about the nature of the event. The forum was "billed by the McCain campaign as a town hall with independent and Democratic voters," but Fox News noted at the end that the audience was actually "made up of invited guests and supporters," the Democratic National Committee said in a statement.
Here is FNC's Shepard Smith breaking the news:
SMITH: "I reported at the top of this hour that the campaign had told us at Fox News that the audience would be made up of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. We have now received a clarification from the campaign and I feel I should pass it along to you. The McCain campaign distributed tickets to supporters, Mayor Bloomberg, who of course is a registered Republican, and other independent groups."
DNC Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement:
"Once again John McCain's campaign is trying to mislead the American people. Senator McCain should understand that after seven years of a President who has divided Americans and pursued a scorched earth policy full of misleading propaganda campaigns, we need a leader who understands he is the President for all Americans not just his supporters. Copying the Bush campaign model of stacking events with his prescreened supporters is not the transparency Americans are looking for. If that is Senator McCain's idea of straight talk, the American people are in for a long and disappointing campaign season."