Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain agrees to attend to tonight's debate

This is from MSNBC News:

WASHINGTON - Republican John McCain agreed to attend the first presidential debate Friday night even though Congress doesn't have a bailout deal, reversing an earlier decision to delay the event until Washington had taken action to address the crisis.

With less than 10 hours until the debate was scheduled to start, the McCain campaign announced that the Arizona senator would travel to the University of Mississippi. The campaign said that afterward McCain would return to Washington to continue working on the financial crisis.

Obama had always planned to attend the debate and was aboard his plane preparing to take off when McCain's announcement was made. McCain quickly moved to his own private aircraft and headed South with his wife and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife, Judith, on board.

The action contradicted the position McCain had taken Wednesday, when he announced, "I'm directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the Commission on Presidential Debates to delay Friday night's debate until we have taken action to address this crisis."

McCain had also said he would suspend all campaign activities, but in reality the campaign just shifted to Washington while the work of trying to win the election went on.

McCain had taken a gamble with the move, trying to appear above politics and as a leader on an issue that had overshadowed the presidential campaign and given him trouble. But Democratic rival Barack Obama had not bowed to McCain's challenge, and instead questioned why the Republican nominee couldn't handle two things at once — the debate and involvement in the bailout negotiations.

An Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll out Friday just before McCain's announcement showed the public overwhelmingly wanted the candidates to debate, 60 percent to 22 percent, with the rest undecided.

And here is what an ex-McCain adviser had to say about McCain's latest flip-flop on the Huffington Post:

After days of saying that John McCain would not attend Friday's presidential debate unless an agreement on a bailout package for the markets was "locked-down," the McCain campaign has gone back on its word.

On Friday, it announced that the Senator [John McCain] would head down to Mississippi even though, as they readily admit, much work remained needed on the bailout agreement.

The whole episode left even conservatives admitting that the McCain campaign looked erratic and a bit foolish with no apparent direction or guiding principle.

"It just proves his campaign is governed by tactics and not ideology," said Republican consultant Craig Shirley, who advised McCain earlier in this cycle. "In the end, he blinked and Obama did not. The 'steady hand in a storm' argument looks now to more favor Obama, not McCain."

Shirley added, "My guess is that plasma units are rushing to the McCain campaign as we speak to replace the blood flowing there from the fights among the staff."


"He will been seen as blinking first," Shirley declared, "since it was he who said he wasn't going until the crisis is averted. Hobson's choice, painted in a corner, bollixed -- pick your poison, or pick your cliche."

John McCain had certainly gotten himself into a pickle here. I don't even know why the McCain campaign tried to cancel tonight's debate with this silly publicity stunt. Was it because the campaign staff was worried that McCain would appear too old in debating with Barack Obama, or McCain would say the wrong things during the debate, or that McCain would angrily lash out against Obama? Was it because the McCain campaign was scared to have John McCain debate against Obama? Was it because the McCain campaign political policies are completely the same as the Bush administration political policies--policies that are opposed by the majority of this country? Whatever the reasons, the McCain campaign tried to pull out of this first debate. And in doing so, they made themselves look completely foolish, and potentially allowed Barack Obama to have 90 minutes of free campaign air time to present his own vision to the country. And now John McCain looks even more foolish in going back on his word to attend to tonight's debate.

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