I know conventional wisdom says that the incumbent wants to limit the number of debates while the challenger wants more. And I’m sure that the Kerry campaign is operating on that assumption. And yeah I agree with John Miller and others that the townhall style meetings are awful on the merits. But I’m not sure three debates hurts Bush. He may be a garbled speaker and all that. But the more Kerry talks the worse he does. People have already absorbed Bush’s speaking style. While Kerry’s ability to pull his foot up along his back, over his shoulder and into his mouth still leaves many of us speechless. I’m sure that Bush will come armed with numerous taunts to get Kerry to explain his record. And that’s bad news for Kerry. Indeed, the more people see Kerry, the less they like him.
Yeah, yeah I know undecideds think the debates are supposed to be about the issues. But that’s never been the case.
My guess is that the Bush campaign was able to win a great many concessions from the Kerry campaign — format, notes, times etc — in exchange for that third debate when in fact the Bushies didn’t really mind having it.