McCain’s Debate Dodge

Two candidates, two late-day announcements: John McCain’s came first. Hard-hit by economy-related criticism and beset by stories circulating that a McCain/Palin campaign aide’s firm received payments from troubled Freddie Mac that only ended recently, athe Republican hopeful announced his wish to suspend the planned Friday presidential debate — and his plan to suspend his campaign — in order to focus on helping the Senate deal with the beleaguered Paulson bailout scheme. Barack Obama responded quickly, rejecting any plan to postpone the debate and stating that a president needs to be able to handle more than one task at a time.

From the NYT:

McCain’s surprise announcement that he would temporarily suspend his campaign to return to Washington to help broker a deal to save the financial industry is the latest in a series of political gambits surrounding the financial crisis on Wall Street, and is sure to reshape political calculations and voter attitudes around the volatile issue.

The move is an obvious attempt by McCain and his campaign to paint the Arizona senator as above politics, willing to put aside his campaign for the good of the country.

It comes as two new national polls — including one conducted by the Washington Post — show McCain slipping in the head to head matchup against Barack Obama due in large part to voters’ willingness to trust the Illinois Senator to solve the financial problems of the country.

The McCain campaign believes that their candidate is at his best when he is seen as a deal-maker, willing to reach across party lines to get things done for the good of the country. This economic crisis, they believe, provides McCain a chance to show the sort of leadership that voters value in the Arizona senator.

From Reuters:

Obama made [his] statement shortly after McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, called for Friday’s debate to be postponed and said he would suspend his campaign to help work out agreement among lawmakers on a proposed $700 billion financial bailout plan.

“What I’m planning to do now is debate on Friday,” Obama said from the hotel where he has been preparing for the debate.

“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,” he said. “I think that it is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”

Obama said he had told congressional leaders who are trying to hammer out an agreement on the bailout plan that he was prepared to go to Washington if it would help.

“What is important is that we don’t suddenly infuse Capitol Hill with presidential politics.”

Obama said he called McCain early on Wednesday [morning] to suggest the two presidential candidates issue a joint statement aimed at taking a bipartisan approach to the bailout plan.

McCain called him back this afternoon and said he was interested in issuing a statement.

Obama said he was surprised that McCain made the announcement that he was suspending his campaign and wanted to postpone the debate. Obama said he thought the two men would first issue the joint statement before making any other moves. 

That McCain went ahead half-cocked to get a jump on Obama, the person with whom he claimed he wanted to collaborate on a bipartisan plan for addressing the fiscal mess, says much about the GOPper, none of it good.

Quién es mas presidential? If the choice is between these two, it would be the straight shooter, and that isn’t the self-proclaimed “maverick.”

As for the debate, the event’s host, the University of Mississippi, said in a statement that it was “going forward with the preparation for the debate. …We are ready to host the debate, and we expect the debate to occur as planned. At present, the university has received no notification of any change in the timing or venue of the debate.”

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