In a hastily called press conference in response to Sen. John McCain’s announcement that he will temporarily suspend his campaign to focus on the Wall Street crisis, Sen. Barack Obama said he would prefer that Friday’s presidential debate go forward as planned. Obama also gave no indication that he intends to suspend his own campaign activities. From Obama’s remarks:
“This is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be dealing with this mess. I think that it is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once…In my mind, actually, it’s more important than ever that we present ourselves to the American people and try to describe where we want to take the country and where we want to take the economy, as well as dealing with some of the issues of foreign policy that were initially the subject of the debate.”
Agence-France Presse reports that the Commission on Presidential Debates has decided to hold the debate in Oxford, Miss. on Friday, as planned,
“We have been notified by the Commission on Presidential Debates that we are proceeding as scheduled,” said the University of Mississippi, which was to host Friday’s encounter between McCain and Democrat Barack Obama.
“We are ready to host the debate, and we expect the debate to occur as planned,” it said in a statement.
“At present, the University has received no notification of any change in the timing or venue of the debate.”
Jonathan Martin of Politico reports that the McCain campaign has halted advertising.
“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.”
McCain’s apparently unprecedented decision to unilaterally put his campaign on hold has sparked a flurry of debate over his motives. Many Democrats view it as little more than a cynical campaign stunt to try to seize an issue on which he has appeared weak, while some McCain supporters say he is simply displaying his maverick streak and putting partisanship aside for the good of the country.
However, Politico’s Ben Smith reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called McCain and told him “it wouldn’t be helpful” for McCain to come to Washington and inject presidential politics into the delicate negotiations on Wall Street bailout legislation. Whatever McCain’s intent is now, it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone if we later hear his campaign brag about this move in future advertisements or media appearances.
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