In a gutsy move by John McCain just minutes ago, his campaign will be suspended on Thursday to head back to Washington and deal, as a Senator, with the current economic and financial crisis on Wall Street. McCain is calling on the Obama campaign to do the same. Furthermore, the McCain camp has requested to the Commission on Presidential Debates that Friday’s debate be postponed to deal with the current economic issues.
Prelimnary report from Fox News:
John McCain asked the Presidential Debate Commission on Wednesday to postpone Fridayâ€™s scheduled debate with Barack Obama so that he can work on the financial crisis bailout plan now on Capitol Hill.
The Arizona Republican senator said he will suspend his presidential campaign on Thursday to return to Washington to help with bailout negotiations. He urged Obama to do the same.
Longer report from CNN:
NEW YORK (CNN) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain announced Wednesday that he is suspending his campaign to return to Washington and focus on the “historic” crisis facing the U.S. economy.
The Arizona senator called on his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, to do the same. He also urged organizers of Friday’s presidential debate at the University of Mississippi to postpone the event.
“I am calling on the president to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself,” McCain told reporters in New York. “It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.”
There was no immediate response from the Obama campaign.
The Obama campaign responds, via Politico:
At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal. At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obamaâ€™s call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details.
Video of McCain issuing his statement preceded by the breaking news from Fox News, McCain’s statement begins at the 5 minute mark:
The Obama campaign is not buying the debate postponement, via Political Radar:
However a senior Obama campaign official said Obama “intends to debate.”
“The debate is on,” a senior Obama campaign official told ABC News.
Obama supporter and chief debate negotiator Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., told MSNBC that “we can handle both,” when asked about his reaction to McCain’s call to postpone the first debate because of the administration’s bailout plan.
He believes they are making good progress on Capitol Hill on the bailout and his initial reaction is that the work on the Hill should not preclude the debate from taking place.
Waiting on the joint statement and Obama’s official position, will advise if and when we get word of the debate’s rescheduled time. Obama is supposed to release a video statement soon.
Via Politico, McCain ads going dark Thursday:
Aiming to prove how serious he is about addressing the financial crisis, John McCain has instructed his staff to take all his campaign commercials off the air, a spokesman tells Politico.
“As John McCain said, now is the time to put partisanship aside and come together to do the work that the American people expect,” said Tucker Bounds.
McCain aides are now in the process of contacting TV station across the country to get their ads taken down, according to Bounds.
Asked how long they would go dark, Bounds only said: “We’re taking our guidance from Sen. McCain on that.”
Barack Obama’s entire statement on McCain’s campaign suspension and the fate of Friday’s debate:
A report from Yahoo News on the unfolding events:
NEW YORK – The economic crisis and raw politics threatened to derail the first presidential debate as John McCain challenged Barack Obama to delay the Friday forum and join forces to help Washington fix the financial mess. Obama rebuffed his GOP rival, saying the next president needs to “deal with more than one thing at once.”
The White House rivals maneuvered to claim the leadership role in resolving the economic turmoil that has overshadowed their campaign six weeks before Election Day. Obama said he would proceed with his debate preparations while consulting with bailout negotiators and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. McCain said he would stop all advertising, fundraising and other campaign events to return to Washington and work for a bipartisan solution.
“It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess,” Obama said at a news conference in Clearwater, Fla. “It’s going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”
But McCain said they must focus on a bipartisan solution to the nation’s financial woes as the Bush administration’s $700 billion bailout proposal seemed headed for defeat. If not, McCain said ominously, credit will dry up, people will no longer be able to buy homes, life savings will be at stake and businesses will not have enough money to pay workers.
“It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the administration’s proposal,” McCain said. “I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain’s representative in debate negotiations, said McCain will not attend the debate “unless there is an agreement that would provide a solution” to the financial crisis. Graham, R-S.C., told The Associated Press that the agreement would have to be publicly endorsed by Obama, McCain, the White House and congressional leaders, but not necessarily given final passage by the House and Senate.
Asked whether the debate could go forward if McCain doesn’t show, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs replied, “My sense is there’s going to be a stage, a moderator, an audience and at least one presidential candidate.”
Their competing positions came after the two senators spoke privately, each trying to portray himself as the bipartisan leader in a time of crisis.
So here’s where we are. McCain is still threatening to not attend the debate if there is no consensus reached on some kind of legislation aimed at stemming the current Wall Street banking crisis. Obama has flatly stated that, in his view, the debate will happen on Friday regardless of McCain’s request to postpone it, opting to say that as President, they must be able to handle multiple things at once.
So who benefits from this mess? In my view, McCain started leading the day by putting the ball in Obama’s court and seeing how he would respond. Obama faced the choice of following McCain’s lead, which would make McCain look like the leader, or balking at McCain’s move and continuing to campaign. Obama chose the latter and is now putting the ball in McCain’s court with regard to the debate.
Both candidates took a hard line today and we will see what happens. I’m guessing, from what I’ve heard today, the Commission of Presidential debates is still prepared to move forward on Friday holding the debate. Will they dare to do so without both candidates? Will McCain dare to bypass the debate and risk terrible media coverage?
A lot will be happening in the next 24 to 48 hours with regard to whether the debate will happen and how this goes over with voters. We’ll be on top of it with updates.