Could the desperation in this ploy to avoid Friday night’s debate possibly be more transparent?
NEW YORK (AP) – Republican John McCain said Wednesday that he wants to postpone Friday’s debate to deal with the nation’s financial problems, but Democrat Barack Obama said “it’s more important than ever” that the country hear from its next president.
The White House rivals maneuvered to claim the leadership role on the financial crisis that has overshadowed their campaign, leaving the question of whether they will hold their first debate in doubt. Obama said he would continue ahead with his debate preparations, while 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.”
Their dueling positions came after the two senators spoke privately, each trying to portray himself as the bipartisan leader at a time of crisis.[..]
Even as McCain said he was putting the good of the country ahead of politics, his surprise announcement was clearly political. It was an attempt to try to out-maneuver Obama on an issue he’s trailing on, the economy, as the Democrat gains in polls. He swiftly went before TV cameras minutes after speaking with Obama and before the two campaigns had hammered out a joint statement expressing that Congress act urgently on the bailout.
And while McCain’s campaign said he would “suspend” his campaign, it simply will move to Washington knowing the spotlight will remain on him no matter where he is.
Obama repeatedly stressed at his news conference that he called McCain first to propose that they issue a joint statement in support of a package to help fix the economy as soon as possible. He said McCain called back several hours later, as Obama was leaving a rally in Florida, and agreed to the idea of a statement but also said he wanted to postpone the debate and hold joint meetings in Washington.
Obama said he suggested they first issue a joint statement showing bipartisanship.
“When I got back to the hotel, he had gone on television to announce what he was going to do,” Obama said.
From The Washington Post…
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said McCain’s move was “the longest ‘Hail Mary’ in the history of either football or Marys.” The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which was holding a hearing on the bailout, added “I’m not particularly focused on Senator McCain. I guess if I wanted expertise there [from the GOP ticket], I’d ask Sarah Palin.”
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada had a similar reaction. “It would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy,” Reid said. “If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op.”
He added: “If there were ever a time for both candidates to hold a debate before the American people about this serious challenge, it is now.”[..]
Obama campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs was more direct. The scene at the debate site in Oxford, Miss. Friday night, he said, would consist of “a stage, an audience, a moderator, and at least one presidential candidate.”
Sorry, Johnny, looks like you’re gonna have to show up on Friday night after all.
P.S. Senator McCain has canceled his scheduled appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman tonight. There must be a reason he is so reluctant to appear in public these days. This is a man who wants to be our next president. What is he afraid of?