Quote Of The Day: On McCain Suspending Campaign And Calling For Debate Postponement

The political Quote of the Day comes from The Politico’s Ben Smith on GOP Presidential campaign John McCain’s dramatic announcement that due to the economic crisis he is suspending his campaign, heading back to Washington and wants rival Democratic. Sen. Barack Obama to do the same and to postpone Friday’s debate:

McCain suspends his campaign, and asks to postpone Friday’s debate, to address the financial crisis.

Both candidates have been marginal players; McCain, though, seems to have the potential to make himself a major one, and his move is a mark, most of all, that he doesn’t like the way this campaign is going.

But in terms of the timing of this move: The only thing that’s changed in the last 48 hours is the public polling.

And, indeed, there has a clear and major trend today in political polls, including one from Fox News. Meanwhile, news reports suggest the administration’s massive bailout is in major trouble in Congress and the consequences of no action could be catastrophic. So a) McCain can play a role b) the timing of this is indeed politically advantageous (confirmed reports say Obama called McCain earlier about issuing a joint statement of principles and McCain’s announcement to suspend came after that) to McCain. Genuine bipartisanship or political ploy? The answer will come in upcoming political rhetoric and/or campaign ads.

Will this decision be a game-changer as well as a policy-influencer?See Shaun Mullen’s earlier post on McCain’s announcement and scroll down and see several posts today on the most recent polls on the race. Question on the debates: shouldn’t politicians be able to juggle more than one task at once?

UPDATE: Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly is our second quote of the day:

So, this morning, Obama called McCain with a straightforward idea: if both candidates supported similar provisions, the two sides could endorse a joint set of principles. McCain, this afternoon, agreed. Obama did this quietly, away from the media spotlight, and without leaking anything to the media. Just one candidate looking for a bipartisan solution with a rival candidate. Everyone was happy.

And almost immediately after an agreement was reached, McCain, in the middle of debate prep, decides it’s time for a stunt. How very sad that McCain’s desperation has become this transparent.

Details are a little sketchy at this point, but as I understand it, Obama still wants a debate on Friday, as planned, and does not plan to suspend his campaign, but we’re supposed to get another statement on these developments from Obama very soon.

17 Comments

  1. Oh, the very lassssst thing McCain wants is to face of with Obama this Friday of all Friday's!

    Hey McCain, we know you're running away with your tail between your legs. Your “he-man of action” bit isn't fooling anyone.

    I say Obama insists on the debate and deems proxies to vote for them both as they would if they were there. I say he calls McCain “yellow” and tells the world that their debate would benefit the American people more than casting a vote, since we know those two will cancel each other out anyway on any vote…… duh…

    Anyway, I smell a chicken roasting in the oven…

    mmmmmmm…. chicken….

  2. King Moves . . .

    Smart gambit for McCain to cancel the debate . . . which was to be on Foreign Policy.

    The focus of everyone now is on the economy, and McCain's strengths on Foreign Policy would be overlooked.

    With this gambit, he looks like the adult going back to Washington to take care of business. If Obama insists on the debate, McCain could let Obama debate himself in an empty hall while McCain stood under the Capitol dome.

    Obama has to accept the gambit. I imagine he and his team are looking for counter-moves . . . but there are few available.

    McCain has taken the initiative in the campaign, with a single announcement.

  3. Are you sure its not a goose?

    But seriously, if this crisis has done anything its made this election even more important. We need every opportunity for the candidates to debate head to head.

  4. “Obama has to accept the gambit.”

    Yes, indeed, even if the real reason is that McCain is gambling on getting out a weak position right now and into a stronger one relative to Obama (if progress is made on the economy for which McCain can claim credit).

  5. “King moves, indeed . . .”

    Late in the middle game, and late in the game, it's time to get the guy active.

  6. McCain is counting Americans not seeing through the optics here. The timing is deeply suspect and it raises questions of McCain's ability to multi-task.

    A truly bipartisan move would have been to propose that the debate be turned into some sort of amicable forum on the financial crisis where the candidates and their economic advisers could answer questions about what to do.

    What McCain proposes is, quite simply, preposterous. He's going to go to Washington and get everybody to support some sort of bailout plan? The plan is in no more jeopardy today than yesterday; Dodd offered a proposal that has gotten widespread support from the Democrats. Paulson has agreed to most of Dodd's ideas.

    The only people who need convincing at this point are conservative Republicans. But that's been the Administration's job – to convince the GOP not to pull Patrick Ruffini's gambit and actually support the bill.

    So what exactly will John McCain be doing here? The Democrats and the Administration have already agreed on the main points of a bill. It seems McCain is terrified that Obama will get credit for working behind the scenes to support Dodd's bill and McCain will look out of touch.

    So he launches a bizarre move to stop the whole world and get himself filmed in Washington.

    How stupid does he think Americans are?

  7. The fact that he pulls this move after Obama called him directly to reach out, out of the limelight, to try to pull this together demonstrates him transparently for the POS he has become. I hope people do not fall for this garbage.

  8. How to walk and chew gum at the same time:

    1. Take step, then chew.
    2. Repeat.

  9. My God, should we suspend the election too?

  10. Hey McCain, they made a movie about you: “No Country For Old Men.”

  11. Gichin13 said: “The fact that he pulls this move after Obama called him directly to reach out, out of the limelight, to try to pull this together demonstrates him transparently for the POS he has become.”

    Obama had a political interest in doing this. Recent reports had Democrats antsy of the possibility that they would negotiate a deal with Bush . . . and then McCain would publicly oppose the deal, with negative consequences in close Congressional districts.

    So Obama wanted to lock McCain in with a joint statement that would remove the possibility of damage to the Democrats after a deal was negotiated.

    Elrod said: “A truly bipartisan move would have been to propose that the debate be turned into some sort of amicable forum on the financial crisis where the candidates and their economic advisers could answer questions about what to do.”

    But Friday's debate was to be about foreign policy . . . McCain's main strength.
    By doing what you suggest, McCain would throw away an advantage.
    Plus, Elrod, if as you say McCain can't do anything in Washington . . . then what is the point of having a forum where people without power talk about something that they cannot immediately effect. This would be doubly pointless.

    This was a political move, and a smart one. The Democrats are, not surprisingly, howling. Obama will have no choice but to suspend his campaign as well.

    I see some left-wing bloggers demanding that Obama keep campaigning, and let McCain go to Washington by himself. Yes, let McCain be seen to be meeting beneath the Capitol dome . . . McCain in one-on-ones with Paulson appearing presidential . . . while Obama denounces him from some whistle-stop in Ohio.

    Lord save Obama from the Left.

    Obama has no choice but to accept McCain's gambit. That is, after all, the beauty of a fine gambit. Obama will be looking for countermoves . . . and the possibility that McCain will put him in check somehow . . . but this was a stunning political gambit.

  12. elrod, “A truly bipartisan move would have been to propose that the debate be turned into some sort of amicable forum on the financial crisis where the candidates and their economic advisers could answer questions about what to do.”

    I was thinking the same. But Obama can still propose the debate be about the financial crises. Obama can even propose moving it to Washington….

    As far as politics… McCain's move was smart and his poll numbers will increase. But McCain likes big splashes like this (think Palin) but then can't swim so he starts to sink. And if McCain makes a splash like this on some other issue just before the election, then he'll win.

  13. So . . . Obama has decided not to take the gambit.

    I expect he will be relying heavily on cover from the MSM denouncing McCain as playing politics.

    But McCain has pulled down all his ads, and unilaterally disarmed. Obama has refused.

    I imagine all the Democrats on the Hill will refuse to meet with McCain when he comes to Washington. . .and will denounce him.

    How will this play out? Talk about drama . . .

  14. I can't imagine the public wouldn't take it as some sort of crazy gambit. This isn't canceling some fund raising dinner. The debates are, for most people, the start of the election season. Unless you're capable of doublethink (likely already voting for McCain), you're going to notice the drastic nature of this step. I'm biased, but I'd imagine even if you take McCain at his word about the grave danger we're in now. How was the economy fundamentally sound last week?

  15. Marlowecan–

    Good drama isn't the same thing as good policy.

    Good drama isn't even the same thing as good politics.

    If McCain can't make the debate this Friday, maybe he should send Sarah Palin to stand in for him.

    Wouldn't that be some drama!

  16. Marlowecan, “I imagine all the Democrats on the Hill will refuse to meet with McCain when he comes to Washington. . .and will denounce him.”

    I don't see how the Dems can do this. It makes them look partisan, especially since Obama and McCain have similar concerns about the bailout plan.

    But I've been wrong before and I may be wrong on this… but that's what makes politics so much fun (and frustrating, too!) :) I'm going to curl up on my comfy couch with a big bowl of popcorn and watch this drama the next couple of days. This is moving almost as fast as Jack Bauer in 24. :)

  17. I don't think the McCain folks were that scared of Obama as a debater. He wasn't that hot, during the primaries, even with an opponent who had, to some extent, to pull her punches.

    I think the real target of this move is to get the Obama campaign to pull their TV ads. McCain gave them too much fodder, last week, and the McCain counter moves, obviously, weren't getting the desired result.

    I also think the McCain campaign saw value in getting Gov Palin off the stump, since they weren't getting any additional benefit from her other than firing up an already fired up right wing base and some media bashing opportunities, also of diminishing, and possibly slightly negative, value. They want to move her debate back to an “indefinite” date, too.

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