The Politics behind McCain’s Call to Postpone the Debate

Sep 24 2008 Published by under Featured News

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})();…In a statement, John McCain has suspended his presidential campaign in order to come back to Washington and work on the federal bailout bill. McCain called for a postponement of Friday’s debate and called on Obama to do the same. This is another attempt by the McCain campaign to portray McCain as a leader, and play politics with the issue.

McCain said, Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative. I have spoken to Senator Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me. I am calling on the President to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.”

He tried to position himself as a bipartisan leader, “We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved. I am 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 also invoked 9/11, “Following September 11th, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. We must show that kind of patriotism now. Americans across our country lament the fact that partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.”

This is a huge political gamble by McCain. He is trying to get on top of the issue by putting Obama in a box. If Obama agrees to postpone the debate, McCain looks like a leader. If Obama insists that the debate goes forward, then McCain can paint Obama as putting politics over country. This is an interesting flip for McCain considering that earlier in the week he was sending signals that he was not going to show up and vote for the bill.

I think this is a shallow attempt to play politics with a critical issue. If McCain wants the bill passed, there is no need for such drama. All McCain has to do is send the signal to the Republicans on the Hill that they need to support the bill. My hunch is that Obama will agree to suspend the debate, which I think is strategically and politically the best move. The debate could probably be moved to Monday with no problem. McCain is trying to play politics here, but I think the Obama camp is too sharp to fall into their trap.

McCain’s Full Remarks

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