White House hopeful Hillary Clinton on Saturday proposed a one-one-one, unmoderated debate with Democratic rival Barack Obama in a bid to break open the dead-heat race for the party's nod.
"So here is my proposal: I'm offering Senator Obama the chance to debate me one-on-one, no moderators. Just the two of us going for 90 minutes asking and answering questions. We'll set whatever rules seem fair," Clinton said.
"I think it would give the people of Indiana -- and I assume a few Americans will tune in because nearly 11 million watched the Philadelphia debate, and I think they would like seeing that discussion."
Clinton's campaign manager Maggie Williams pointed out in a letter to Obama's campaign manager that Obama had declined two debate invitations for the coming week and a third invitation to a debate in Oregon.
"The American people, of course, deserve more. They deserve debates before casting their votes," she wrote.
In recognition of the 150th anniversary of a series of debates held over 60 days between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, the debate would be known as a Lincoln-Douglas debate, "where two candidates put their ideas, their visions, and their values before the American people," Williams said.
"We can surely meet the standard our forebearers did. Our final two primary candidates to date have had three fewer debates than Lincoln and Douglas held in single state over 60 days in 1858."
Obama's campaign appeared to reject the offer.
"We have participated in 21 nationally televised debates, the most in primary history, including four exclusively with Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton refused an earlier invitation that had been accepted to debate in North Carolina," spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
"Over the next 10 days, we believe it's important to talk directly to the voters of Indiana and North Carolina about fixing our economy, cutting the cost of health care and ending a war in Iraq that never should have been authorised in the first place."