The event would be a townhall style at the Expo Center in Belton, Texas, which is near Fort Hood, Texas, which is the largest active-duty military base in the country.
The organizers for this event are American Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Veterans for Common Sense and Military Spouse Corporate Career Network. Recently the FRA joined with the the 2008 Fort Hood Presidential Town Hall Consortium.
CBS has agreed to broadcast the meeting live from 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, Aug. 11. The candidates would face questions directly from an audience of 6,000 people, made up of veterans, service members and military families from the base.
The Obama campaign cited scheduling conflicts are their reason for not agreeing to attend.
Phillip Carter who is the director of Obama’s veterans effort and an Iraq war veteran, said, "Senator Obama strongly supports America’s veterans and military families and has worked hard on their behalf in the Senate. While we unfortunately had a previously scheduled commitment on the date proposed, Senator Obama looks forward to continuing the dialogue he’s been having throughout the country with veterans on how we can better serve our men and women in uniform as they serve us.”
The organizers then made it clear they would adjust their scheduling to accommodate Obamas, and even with that offer, the Obama campaign is refusing to commit.
According to the managing director of the Fort Hood Presidential Town Hall Consortium, Carissa Picard, who is a military wife herself with a husband that is deployed in Iraq, she has had several conversations with the Obama campaign with no success and she goes on to state, "I’m having extreme difficulty getting the Obama campaign to commit to this event, and we do not understand why. We made it very clear to them that if they would commit to the event, we would work with them on dates.”
Fort Hood houses approximately 218,000 people which include active-duty military members, retired military members and families of military members.
Picard tells the new York Times that the decision to go public with these plans and the difficulties they have been having getting Obama to commit, was not easy but that they could see no other way to pressure him into attending, going on to say, "We were at a point where we had no other option. We got the impression that they could talk us to November.”
The article point out that while many might assume that a military audience would be overly friendly to McCain and not to Obama, many of those at Fort Hood have been hit hard by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with an estimated 800 members of the service that have died in Iraq, having at one point gone through the Fort Hood base, and that many agree with Obama's position that the war must end.
Picard goes on to say, "McCain and Obama are asking to be the next commander in chief. What’s a more compelling audience than this, the people that you have asked to maintain our security? It would be tremendous for the morale of this community."
According to organizers of this planned event, the military and their families consist of about 44 million people.
That is a very large voting bloc.