September 29th, 2008
02:22 PM ET
6 years ago

McCain defends campaign suspension

Sen. John McCain defended his decision to suspend his campaign Monday.
Sen. John McCain defended his decision to suspend his campaign Monday.

(CNN) – John McCain defended his decision to suspend his campaign last week to be on hand as Congress hammered out the details of the financial bailout plan that failed in a House vote Monday afternoon, telling an Ohio crowd that he left the campaign trail because he did not want to “simply phone it in.”

“I know that many of you have noticed, but it’s not my style to simply ‘phone it in.’ I am a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. I believe our leaders belong ‘in the arena’ when our country faces a challenge,” said the Republican nominee. “I’ve never been afraid of stepping in to solve problems for the American people, and I’m not going to stop now."

Over the weekend, both McCain and major supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham used similar language in describing the reason for his choice. “John didn’t phone this one in,” Graham told Fox News. “You can’t phone something like this in. Thank God John came back.”

Democrats responded by pointing to comments from top McCain advisor Mark Salter, who said that McCain had decided to spend his time at home or at his campaign headquarters instead of visiting Capitol Hill during marathon negotiations over the bailout bill over the weekend because “he’s calling members on both sides, talking to people in the administration, helping out as he can. …He can effectively do what he needs to do by phone,” said Salter.

McCain also told the crowd Monday that he “went to Washington last week to make sure that the taxpayers of Ohio and across this great country were not left footing the bill for mistakes made on Wall Street and evil and greed in Washington," and that that Barack Obama had been “watching from the sidelines” as the country faces a growing financial crisis.

“At first he didn’t want to get involved. Then he was ‘monitoring the situation,’” said the Arizona senator. “And watching from the sidelines is exactly what got us into this mess. It was the lack of accountability and oversight that put your working families tax dollars on the line,” he said, repeating his charge that Obama had supported tax increases on the middle class.

“A vote for Barack Obama will leave this country at risk during one of the most severe challenges to America’s economy since the Great Depression. You see, when it comes to growing the economy and protecting you from the corruption of Wall Street and Washington, Senator Obama just doesn’t get it.”

The Obama campaign responded with another statement that again made an issue of McCain’s demeanor. "Senator McCain’s angry diatribe today won’t make up for his erratic response to the greatest financial crisis of our time. John McCain knows that the budget he's talking about didn’t end up raising taxes on a single American,” said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor.


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soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. McCain THE LIAR

    With the economic problem, I'm sure McCain will need to cancel the VP debate as he and Palin are needed at the White House to further delay the bailout.

    September 29, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. ATLian

    So the Savior McCain didn't save the bailout bill. Now what?

    September 29, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    I think both McCain and Graham are missing the crucial facts that McCain didn't actually suspend his campaign, and he didn't contribute anything to the debate, and in fact might have contributed to its falling apart.

    Other than that, spot on analysis.

    September 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. JD in NC

    Great. He brought his "leadership" to it, and now the Republicans shot down the bill because Pelosi criticized Bush. Insane.

    September 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. Even Steven

    He didn't suspend his campaign at all (has he un-suspended it yet?) There were McCain ads still playing late last week on TV all over Colorado where I live, and there still are. But most importantly, it took Johnnie Mac almost 28 hours to mosey himself over to Washington from NY City. He was too busy talking to Katie Couric and bashing Obama at Bill Clinton's Millennium Project convention in the meantime.

    September 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. Fay

    McCain is a liar and an opportunist! I am so done with this guy!

    September 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. Obama 08

    Oh McCain, even you said that you don't know much about economics and yet YOU think that you can run the country better than Obama with Bill Clinton's economic advisers? I think NOT!

    September 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. indewoman for OBAMA

    McCain is a liar

    September 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. Independent

    And what did he do on Sunday?...oh please I am seriously starting to think that he thinks Americans are mentally retarted. Well they may be if they believe this trash.

    As for me McCain...I am NOT STUPID

    September 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. Spencer from VA

    You didn't fix anything John. You should've suspended your campaign indefinitely.

    September 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  11. carlo

    Forget justifying the suspension. Try justifying the ultimate market crash that sill ensue because of your white horse rescue last Thursday! Thanks a lot Maverick McCain.

    September 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  12. Julia

    But he did phone it in. On saturday CNN had pictures of him being on the phone instead of actually going to the capitol. And guess what? Now the vote failed and McCain is to blame.

    September 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  13. tulsa

    According to sources in the room, the meeting began like this;
    After Pres. Bush convened the meeting, Pelosi began as is customary. ( as the majority leader of the House) She and Reid deferred to Obama. He laid out, without notes, the Democratic ideas about what safeguards the bill must have. When finished, Pelosi asked Sen. McCain to respond with the Republican plan at which time Sen. McCain deferred to the Republican Congressional leadership and said nothing else.
    Yep, he’s quite the leader.
    Did a lot of good too from the looks of things.

    September 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  14. The Scientist

    During his campaign suspension, McCain claimed that he was devoting his time—ALL of his time—to the important task of solving the economic crisis.

    Later we learned this was not true. He spent Thursday evening, and Friday morning preparing for a debate that he swore he had no intention of participating in without a bailout deal. He refused to take a stand on the measure during the meeting with Bush and other officials. He claimed he would return to Capitol Hill after the debate, then it leaked that he had not done so, but instead was ‘working the phones’ in regards to solving the crisis. The very thing he criticized Obama for doing prior to the debate.

    It was a dishonorable attempt to score political points. He should be ashamed of himself. He is unfit to be president.

    September 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  15. David

    flip-flop, he phone after the debate

    September 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  16. Leena

    Nice spin. But the fact that he still has to defend it mean someone's not buying it.

    And by the way....way to control your party in voting for the bailout. Great influence you must have.

    September 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. tws1906

    His campaign was not suspended...he just needed time to get himself together before debate...he definately did not help with the bailout.

    September 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. Bob (Illinois)

    Oh, please! I no longer recognize you as Senator John McCain. You have morphed into someone who is just plain dishonest.

    September 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  19. Virginia Voter

    McFlipFlop did a great job flip-flopping on whether or not he would be at the debate. He should've stayed in Washington, since he got positively ROASTED in the debate.

    September 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. tennisguypitt

    you expect me to believe you?

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. Daniel va

    He thought we are all idiots, the senile old man...

    September 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. CW in PSL

    John McRelic and his party tried to pull a fast one, but alas, it didn't work.....they were going well with the deal until McHistoric and his campaign came up with this idea to stall things and let McCain suspend his campaign in the name of the country!! and fly into Washington to save the day like Mighty Mouse!! But he went there and made things worst and sat mute into the meeting with his mentor Bush, now they are trying to spin things. McLiar is still for deregulation so that he and his wealthy friends can continue to suck the little man dry. Thank GOD that Obama is in this game to change it!

    September 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Lone McCain Blogger

    Even on the user polls on foxnews.com, majority of the responders think McCain was pulling a stunt. FOX NEWS!

    September 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  24. L Daniel

    suspension? Please This man is joke...playing games with America is in so much trouble.

    September 29, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. Farzin from NY

    let's see-

    McCain pulls a giant stunt and pretends like he's going to come save the country and get a hard negotiated bail-out deal through. Everyone warned him against it b/c he was injecting politics into a delicate negotiation, and he did it anyway. Result – he derailed talks and empowered the house republicans to balk at the deal. Well done, Senator McCain. If this is a preview of what the McCain administration will get done, all i can say is "Thanks, but no thanks!"

    Only thing missing from this ridiculous stunt was the "Mission Accomplished" banner.

    September 29, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
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