John McCain Suspends Campaign, Wants to Delay Debates to Deal with Financial Crisis

Wow:

Sen. John McCain said he will “suspend” his presidential campaign on Thursday and will return to Washington to focus on the unfolding economic crisis. In the meantime, he called for a delay in the presidential debate scheduled for Friday night in Mississippi. Sen. McCain also called on his Democratic rival Barack Obama to join him back in the capital. “It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the administration’s proposal. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time,” the Arizona senator said in statement issued by the campaign. “Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington.”

More here. McCain full statement here.

First, I’ll note a a point from my blog post this morning on how the candidates, and their plans for dealing with the financial crisis, were being largely ignored as the business press focuses coverage on the parties who will actually craft a solution sometime this week. I noted that McCain, Obama and Joe Biden — all sitting U.S. Senators — weren’t likely to show up for a vote on the bailout this week, due to their campaign schedules and, of course, Friday’s scheduled debate.

This from the McCain campaign, of course, is might be a game changer.

Quick reaction from former Wonkette Ana Marie Cox, via Twitter, who says, “Suspending the campaign is classic McCain. It is also something he wouldn’t do if he were winning. Or at least he’d be stopped from doing it.”

(In case you were wondering.)

The Obama campaign, meanwhile, indicates it’s still inclined to debate. Politico notes that the two campaigns have been talking it over, working on a joint statement, since this morning. This statement, from the Obama campaign, notes who called whom:

“At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton in an email sent just minutes after McCain’s statement. “At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama’s call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details.”

And now the McCain campaign issues its account of those talks:

“Senator Obama phoned Senator McCain at 8:30 am this morning but did not reach him. The topic of Senator Obama’s call to Senator McCain was never discussed. “Senator McCain was meeting with economic advisers and talking to leaders in Congress throughout the day prior to calling Senator Obama. At 2:30 pm, Senator McCain phoned Senator Obama and expressed deep concern that the plan on the table would not pass as it currently stands. He asked Senator Obama to join him in returning to Washington to lead a bipartisan effort to solve this problem.”

UPDATE: Politico: Obama rebuffs proposal to go to Washington, skip debates:

“It’s my belief that this is exactly the time the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible with dealing with this mess,” he told reporters in Florida, where he has been prepping for Friday’s event. “What I think is important is that we don’t suddenly infuse Capitol Hill with presidential politics,” he said.

He also took a real shot at McCain: “Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time,” Obama said. “It’s not necessary for us to think that we can do only one thing, and suspend everything else.”

I can hear it now: “Barack Obama would rather lose the economy and win the election.” Hopefully, that’s not where this is going. Noted: Obama says, “it may be necessary for both of us to be present to send a strong message that we need something to be done.”

The Latest

Politico Arena: Quick Reaction [Politico]

Ben Smith: Only thing that’s changed for McCain in 48 hours is the polling [Politico]

McCain to Washington to Address Bailout [ABC]

McCain’s political ads to come down [CNN broadcast]

McCain cancels Letterman; Only 4 House Republicans support bailout [Drudge]

Irrelevant no longer: They can get it done [Market Watch]

Obama’s case for debating [WSJ]

Surprise. Huffington Post blasts McCain [Huffington Post]

Reaction, comments from the Arkansas Times blog [Arkansas Times]

From Steve Harrelson [Under the Dome]

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