Whoa — McCain Suspends Campaign? Chickens Out on Debate?

[More and more updates below.]

I didn’t see this coming.

Republican John McCain said Wednesday he is directing his staff to work with Democrat Barack Obama’s campaign and the presidential debate commission to delay Friday’s debate because of the economic crisis.

In a statement, McCain said he will stop campaigning after addressing former President Clinton’s Global Initiative session on Thursday and return to Washington to focus on the nation’s financial problems.

I passed up a chance to get press credentials for CGI before it was announced McCain and Obama would be there, dammit.

Anyway, this move is —

  1. A maneuver to demonstrate McCain’s “leadership” and make him seem more “presidential”; or
  2. A signal either he or his campaign are cracking up.

Update: The Faux News announcement makes ducking the debate sound like McCain’s patriotic duty. Ben Smith of Politico calls it a “gambit.”

Steve Benen:

I’ve never even heard of a presidential candidate acting in such a reckless, compulsive, and ultimately haphazard fashion. McCain just decided to “suspend” campaign activities? This rivals picking Sarah Palin for the ticket on the list of desperation moves. …

… The moment the winds shifted and Obama had a growing lead in the polls, it’s time to suspend the campaign. Good lord, McCain really does think voters are idiots.

Update: This is from Joe Klein

McCain suspends his campaign because of financial crisis? Oh please. Given today’s poll numbers–even Fox has him dropping–it seems another Hail Mary (like the feckless selection of Palin) to try make McCain seem a statesman, which is difficult given the puerile tenor of his campaign’s message operation.

Obama should counter with a suggestion that the topic of the debate be changed form foreign policy to the financial crisis.

I like this headline — McCain: Can’t Debate, Gotta Save Country.

The Young Turks are mildly chagrined

Update: Barack Obama is supposed to issue a statement any minute now. Here he is.

Obama says he called McCain this morning to suggest the two candidates issue a joint statement on the financial crisis.

He says he’s been in touch with leaders in Congress and Secretary Paulson. Time for politics, and a time to put politics aside. Grrr, he’s not being clear.

OK, he says this is the time the people need to hear from the candidates. A president has to do more than one thing at once. More important than ever for candidates to present themselves to the people.

Debate is on, as far as Obama is concerned.

Update: You may have heard that the Creature is giving an address on the financial crisis tonight. Today WH mouthpiece Dana Parino said the White House thinks negotiations are going very well. There’s no crisis about the crisis, she said.

Update: The Debate Commission says the debate is on, according to MSNBC.

17 thoughts on “Whoa — McCain Suspends Campaign? Chickens Out on Debate?

  1. I’ve long thought that once Obama and McCain share the same stage, the election is over. McCain simply won’t stand a chance against Obama on television. For good or ill, charisma is a large determinant in U.S. elections. This is a cheap political stunt on the part of the McCain campaign. He gets to look bipartisan and presidential while simultaneously avoiding a debate that can potentially ruin his campaign.

  2. Whoa, I saw that too and was flabbergasted.

    Definitely a cheap stunt and debate avoidance. Obama’s made it to the Senate floor for several important votes McCain missed. The Obama campaign ought to be pointing that out, if they haven’t said it already.

  3. The next President will have to simultaneously deal with this problem and a war at the same time. Surely, it is a legitimate test of their abilities to deal with the current crisis and a debate.

  4. It’s definitely a gambit. McCain is insinuating: “I am post-partisan, these are serious times and I’m a serious person; enough of this silly campaigning, and if Obama doesn’t suspend as well, he just doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation.”

    If the press lets him sell it, the public might buy it. However, the public seems to have figured out this financial mess is the ruling party’s fault all on its own, so maybe I’m being too cynical.

  5. A signal either he or his campaign are cracking up.

    With the bailout issue front and center..McCain is wise to avoid a public debate. His record will make him seem flip floppy. McCain is being the artful dodger.

  6. Palin said something today about there maybe being another Great Depression if the financial crises is not resolved, so that sort of put McCain in a spot where I do not think he wanted to be and he is trying to make lemonade out of lemons. If it was just his poll numbers tanking McCain would want the debate–particularly on foreign policy his supposed strength. I suppose he gets some points with the gullible by setting aside politics for “the good of the country”, but you have to be pretty gullible to buy that and most of those folks are already his supporters. I have been hearing totally unsubstantiated rumors that he is sick–ie taking drugs designed to slow Alzheimers and/or a recurrence of melanoma on a lung. He is likely exhausted under any circumstances and is going on two consecutive very bad weeks. Maybe the real Hail Mary is to shut him down for a few days in hopes that he revives.

  7. Terry… interesting. Goes at least part way to explaining the inexplicable. I mean, what an astonishingly desperate move. The negative responses to it are nearly endless; here are a few:

    1) McCain can’t multi-task.
    2) McCain can’t handle stress.
    3) McCain didn’t do his homework for the debate.
    4) McCain is trying to interfere with the electoral process.
    5) Suspending the campaigns could lead to suspending the election.
    6) A presidential campaign went forward even during the Civil War. (Or, “You knew President Lincoln, sir, and you are no Lincoln!”)

    Alternately, this could be a tantrum designed to help Bush get his bailout with as few strings as possible. It adds pressure to get a deal done in a hurry, so that Congress (read: Democrats) isn’t blamed for “interfering with the electoral process.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever been as disgusted with a presidential candidate as I am with McCain right now. And, man, I’ve seen Goldwater, Nixon, Carter ’80, Reagan, Dukakis, Bush II, Kerry.

  8. The Republicans are in a tough spot here: on the one hand, they have to press how critical this is — we have Palin hinting darkly at another Great Depression & McCain making this grand gesture because we’re “running out of time.” & on & on…

    & on the other hand, they wish to be seen as the party of leadership in a crisis & all that entails — see “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” et cetera.

    I think there should be a very carefully worded bill to fund a very short-term loan necessary to cover the basics, and leave any sweeping, comprehensive legislation until after the new President is sworn in. (I’m hoping the new President will be more fiscally responsible than the one we’ve got now. I would have said it would be impossible for this not to be the case, but if McCain is the pick of the Republican litter, man, those folks are in T R O U B L E.)

    My gut instinct is that this is Bush’s final push to rape what’s left of the country. As an American, I’m saying “no.”

  9. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/24/john-mccain-cancels-lette_n_128998.html?show_comment_id=16061125#comment_16061125

    I thought this comment above is a brilliant summation of McCain’s latest political maneuver, and should be shared with Mahablog readers. It’s a difficult process to encapsulate an issue of many aspects into a concise comment… but the commenter Cindy McCain above succeeded in capturing the essense of McCain’s ploy to a perfection.

  10. For McCain:
    Let’s all sing:
    There’s no business like show business
    Like no business I know

  11. I just heard on CNN that Caterpillar (tractors & trucks) had to pay nearly double what they usually do to borrow money. “The banks aren’t lending!’.” This is the main argument for a bailout; that business will come to a halt without it. But who are ‘the banks’ that are not lending? Somewhere some executives in banks have decided that what they DO have, won’t be loaned for anything less than obscene rates.

    And these are the same fat cats who are watching the mail for a billion dollar check with your signature on it. I am not suggesting this is ALL A CONSPIRACY. The problem is all too real. But on the other hand, if the people who stand to benefit the most are also in a position to manipulate the symptoms of the problem, shouldn’t we be suspicious or cautious?

  12. Swami, I actually shouted that out during the dinnertime newscast– “WAAH! THE DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK!”

    Yep, I’m now reduced to yelling at my teevee.

    So… what did the Creature have to say? CNN is reporting that he has “summoned” McCain and Obama to the White House. Scuse me? Summoned? I hope Obama tells him to stuff it, also.

    This is completely off-topic but has been bothering me all day, and you all are so knowledgeable, I’m sure someone can explain. Why the hell is someone called Lady de Rothschild a major player in our presidential election? Is that her name, and not an aristocratic title, as in “Prince Rogers Nelson”? I ask because American citizens cannot use aristocratic titles, and foreign aristocrats cannot vote in our elections. Or is she just another Murdochian subversive-alien tramp?

  13. As far as this McCain guy goes, who knows? Every time I see him on tv (not often anymore) he just looks confused. I think its not fair to accuse him of having Alzheimers or any other disease – though he is 72 so you never know… here is the real problem though: today there is this incessant 24 hour news beast that must be fed “new” stories every day. While complex issues are hard for this beast to eat within a 24 hour cycle, soft stories like polls, quotes like “I suspend my campaign to do some ‘work'”, and whatever the daily talking memo indicates works great.

    Bush or Rove or someone knew just how to manipulate the beast for maximum effect. Obama appears to be doing a little better, while occasionally scolding it for focusing on the frivolousness. Kerry was terrible at feeding it.

    I think McCain is struggling with how to feed this beast. Every day a new story just to be original!

    Can I ask some rudimentary questions about this whole banking issue? Did the government really purchase all these banks? I really don’t understand this. Great maha could you tell me who makes a profit from these banks now? The CEOs still? If so then what did we buy? If one bank bought another bank wouldn’t bank A profit off bank B? Does this mean the US tax payer is going to see a profit off these institutions?

    I’ve been watching the news beast, but I feel like they just talk about the political ramifications, how will this effect Obama’s poll number? Will Ohio turn around and vote for him now? To me it becomes repetitious and boring… Can you give a blog post about what the upshot of this all means?

    Thanks Greatly, Don

  14. Joanr16, I’m ashamed I know this, but I looked her up when she called Obama an ‘elitist.’ She’s an American who made a lot of money and then married into the Rothschild family. Her husband is the head of the British branch of that family, Evelyn de Rothschild, who was knighted by the Queen.

    I’m pretty sure she doesn’t refer to herself as Lady de Rothschild, but others do, to flatter her or ridicule her, depending.

    I’m not entirely clear on what the British rules are about non-hereditary titles like Sir Evelyn’s knighthood, and what a protocol officer who was would call her.

    Meanwhile, in other news, Shrub’s speech was awful. If you’ve been paying attention to the crisis, you realized he doesn’t actually understand it, and if you haven’t been, you wouldn’t have understood it from what he said.

    I’m pretty sure there is no one who will be impressed by McCain’s stunt today. People may differ on why exactly it is ridiculous (there are many reasons), but I can’t imagine anyone thinking it’s brilliant and statesmanlike.

  15. joanr16.. My understanding is that Lady de Rothschild recieved the designation “Lady” by being married to a British subject who was Knighted. She’s a common American who married into gobs of money( like John McCain did). I don’t think it’s a formal title bestowed upon her per se, but something akin to calling our president’s wife… the First Lady. A social politeness? I mean if they can call Rudy Guiliani — The Honorable Rudy Guiliani — then you know it’s just empty words meant to fluff someones ego.

  16. http://buchanan.org/blog/
    scroll down to the video on the above link.
    I know well how joanr16 feels, yelling at the tube like I have a bad case of Touretts

    As for who is this Lady De Rothschild, perhaps the tin-foil hatters/ conspiracy nuts know something we do not, perhaps George Carlin was speaking about the Rothschilds and several other large “Illuminati” banking families in his routine “Who owns America?”
    In these times, its hard to tell what’s fact or fiction, but we’re about to learn some ugly truths

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