The Washington Times - June 13, 2008, 11:39AM

Nancy Reagan, Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson have just extended a needed life preserver to Sen. John McCain, offering to host two town halls as part of the series McCain is trying to force onto Sen. Barack Obama.

This morning McCain accepted the invitations of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum to attend town halls at each venue next month. In accepting, McCain also challenged Obama to do the same.

McCain is certainly gaining something from his repeated pushes to meet Obama head-to-head. With the end of the Democratic primaries there is a vacuum of political news, and the silly back-and-forth over fragments of McCain’s and Obama’s remarks this week is a lame way to fill the space.

Adding the imprimatur of the two presidential libraries to his call for face-to-face meetings will only help McCain as he tries to make sure Obama doesn’t run away with this election.

The McCain campaign is proposing a town hall a week up until the Democratic convention at the end of August. McCain’s campaign manager says the Obama folks have proposed just a single town hall.

At some point, if Obama doesn’t agree to at least a couple of meetings, the “What is he afraid of?” mantra will begin to bite.

Stephen Dinan, National political correspondent, The Washington Times