September 24th, 2008
05:03 PM ET
10 years ago

Capitol Hill reaction to McCain proposal falls along party lines

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Reaction to McCain’s statement fell along party lines."](CNN) – Democratic leadership reacted to John McCain’s Wednesday announcement that he wants to return to Capitol Hill to work on the economic bailout plan and postpone the first debate by saying “presidential politics” should stay out of the negotiations.

Democrats on the Hill told CNN’s Jessica Yellin that after days of negotiations, they are close to coming to a consensus. If McCain comes back to Washington in the final stretch, they said they fear the Republican nominee may take credit for the deal.

Related: Democrats call McCain move a "stunt"

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said with the economy in turmoil, now is the perfect time for the candidates to discuss the issues on the national stage.

“It would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy,” Reid said in a statement. “If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership, not a campaign photo op.”

After his announcement, McCain called Reid to discuss his plans, and the Senate Majority Leader responded by reading his publicly issued statement. A spokesman for Reid called McCain’s decision “only an attempt to divert attention from his failed campaign."

He also called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who told him that Congress had been making progress on the bill.

The McCain camp blasted Reid's reaction. “While Senator McCain has suspended campaigning in order to return to Washington and lend his assistance to the negotiations now underway on Capitol Hill, Senator Reid has put out a statement informing McCain that his presence would ‘not be helpful,'" said McCain-Palin spokesman Brian Rogers. "In fact, this is quite a reversal from yesterday, when Senator Reid told reporters ‘We need the Republican nominee for president to let us know where he stands and what we should do.’

“Unfortunately, Senator Reid is putting partisan politics ahead of the business of the American people. But there should be no mistake: 24 hours ago Reid and his Democratic colleagues on the Hill couldn't have been more desperate for Senator McCain's help in resolving this crisis. Now they've got it.”

On the Senate floor, Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, called the debate “one of the most important events” and said that is has to go on to give voters the opportunity to measure the candidates. Durbin criticized McCain for saying the fundamentals of the economy were “strong,” but then dropping everything to work on negotiations a week later. He said McCain is coming back to Washington for politically-motivated reasons.

“With polls showing his campaign is at its weakest, Senator McCain's decision may have less to do with the drop in the Dow Jones average and more to do with a decline in the Gallup poll,” Durbin said in a statement.

House Minority Leader John Boehner praised McCain’s decision to head back to Washington and suspend his campaign, saying they all “must work together to find a solution.”

“I strongly support Sen. McCain’s proposal for a bipartisan leadership meeting of both Houses of Congress, including Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama,” the Republican congressman said in a statement. “Given that it is only a few months before a new President takes the oath of office, it is vital that the next President play an active role in crafting this critical plan.”

House Republican Whip Roy Blunt also sided with McCain, calling the Republican nominee a “guy who would rather be part of the solution than runaway from the fight.”

“Given the ramifications of what our nation is facing, it is incumbent on members of both parties to come together and find a bipartisan solution for the good of the country,” Blunt said in a statement. “I hope our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will join us in this serious effort.”

But House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer said McCain “sounds like a man in a 100 yard race who is 50 yards out, 25 yards behind and wants to suspend the race.”

Filed under: Congress • John McCain
soundoff (184 Responses)
  1. Tom

    Party lines? Are we not surprised? I think America is quickly figuring out which party needs to have the presidency, and will make it known in spades on election day!

    September 24, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    So, if Palin is so qualified to be President in the event of McCain's incapacity or inability to perform, since McCain wants to forego the first presidential debate with Obama, why not let Palin debate Obama? Besides McCain has no reason to return to DC and contribute to the bailout plan as he is a self-admitted idiot in economics and finance.

    September 24, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  3. Manuel TX

    Hey Wake-up America.

    The reference to a "present" vote is for the Illinois senate...which does include "present" as a voting option.



    September 24, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  4. Canadian can't believe America would vote Repub again!

    What does McCain think he can contribute to the discussion? He's a self-professed ignoramus on the economy so is he going there just to bluster and bellow? He has very limited understanding of either the problem or the solutions and has today admitted he hasn't even read the three page bailout plan yet!!!!!

    September 24, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  5. Gezellig

    Hey, I have an idea....Obama should suggest that Biden and Palin take this Friday's debate on Foreign Policy (or make it the format/topics they were going to use for the VP debate). Then Obama and McCain can take the VP date.

    September 24, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  6. Larry

    John McCain is a joke ...

    Can he put his underware on by himself these days ??

    Go home John ... leave running the country to people who care

    September 24, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  7. Mark

    I hope there is no decision by the 26 th. MCcain presense is going to cause a deadlock and it will be presented in the next session.

    September 24, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  8. Martha

    The is political posturing by McCain, one, he is not prepared and secondly, Moose Woman is equally unprepared. So why not do this is they want the presidential candidate's debate postponed, why not put the VP debate on Friday and the Presidential debate on next week. But either way, McCain/Palin will not be prepared for the debates. Look at McCain he can barely control his eyes because of his melanoma medication taking the best of him. This man in unfortunately really sick, physically and mentally.

    September 24, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  9. Wrong Choice

    This is like a soap opera on daytime television. "Who Shoot JR"?

    September 24, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  10. Karl Warrington

    McCain is losing the economic argument. He needs to do something to shake it up. Once again, this could be genius or another bad risky maneuver. If the two sides manage to come up with a solution once McCain gets into the mix than he can take some credit for the result. The problem is is that this bail out is not popular especially with Conservatives. He is walking a very tricky balancing act. If McCain can get some concessions on CEO compensation in failed businesses and strong oversight and regulations, he might do well.

    September 24, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    mccain gets crazier by the day, he's pitiful!

    September 24, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  12. Aaron from Ohio

    Obama is not on the Senate Finance Committee. McCain is not on the Senate Finance Committee. Neither one is negotiating with the White House on a compromise and bailout solution. Neither one should go to Washington since they are not the ones involved in this. It would only politicize an already difficult situation. Mccain has said he doesn't know that much about the economy. Fine, I believe him. If he isn't part of the solution, I would rather he not be part of the problem. There is a bipartisan group working on a solution now. Why would either candidate want to mess this up unless it was a political stunt that they thought might benefit them? Hold the debate and keep campaigning. One of them is going to be elected President soon enough.

    September 24, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    maybe he should send palin, after all she can build roads to no where,

    September 24, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  14. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Pelosi, Reid and Obama. reminds you of Larry, Curly and Moe of the Three Stooges fame. And put Biden in there as well and you can see the tragedy for the American People.

    Both Obama and Biden voted at least twice for the famous bridge to no where. Then Biden told Katie Couric that FDR appeared on TV during the great depression of 1929. Funny since Hoover was president and TV didn't come into use by the presidents until much much later.

    What stooges the Democratic leadership selected. Enny, Menny, Minney, Moe or Larry, Curly and Moe with Biden.

    September 24, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  15. Wondering Why

    What exactly does Mccain expect to do, since he doesn't serve on the committee that is working on this bill? It is really funny that 2 days before the debate he feels that it is of the upmost importance that everything stop so that he can help with the crises. This really doesn't seem to be very presidential to me. He can fool some people by trying to make them think that he is doing it for them, but his reasons are truly selfish. He isn't ready for the debate and needs a out.

    September 24, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  16. misfit

    Shouldn't someone wanting to be the next President be interested in the details of this bail out?!?

    Sounds to me like Obama is more interested in campaigning for electoral votes than what's actually going on in the here and now! He's about as enthusiatic to debate McCain as he was to get Florida and Michigan full votes–not! (At least until he was gift-wrapped free delegates by the DNC.)

    September 24, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  17. Emily

    On this one, I agree with McCain. We need a solution for the crisis. These two candidates doing a circus does not do any good.

    The issue is neither candidate will be helpful in solving the situation. Instead of inviting them to solve the issue, we should lock them in somewhere, and hide them from the scene for a while.

    And once the crisis is over, the both parties should step back and replace the candidates, decent people like Hillary Clinton or Olympia Snowe.

    September 24, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  18. Kelby from Houston, TX

    We are not even talking about taking a full day, not even half a day. At the most this debate should take a few hours. You can't have a debate and cast your Senatorial vote on the same day? This is rediculous

    September 24, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  19. For real people

    So typical of McCain to propose change in the dates. He knows he cannot stand against Obama's logical and thought through arguments. So now he wants to postpone the debate on the most ridiculous pretext of going to DC to solve the crisis. Are you Joking? They don't need you.

    Trying to postpone VP debate so that Palin gets more time. People, wake up and see what a nonsensical drama this is. How long they can take us for a ride? It is time to tell McCain-Palin to grow up and show leadership if they have any and not run away from the the debates.

    September 24, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  20. P. Di

    Just goes to show you that Obama's not done cramming yet for the debate ... He needs every minute he can get. Either that or he really feels that he's irrelevant in Washington !!!

    September 24, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  21. Abe

    Johnny wants to help work on the economic bailout after saying that the fundamentals of the economy are sound?


    September 24, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  22. 12 HOUSES to 0








    September 24, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  23. sabrina01

    Thank You someone can see this was a political game

    September 24, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  24. Susan in NC

    So, let me see if I have this right.......the candidate who himself said he doesn't know much about the economy is coming "to save the day".......go figure!

    Obama for America!

    September 24, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  25. Independent in NC

    I like the idea of Obama and McCain returning to work this out. They are still Senators, and they have a job to do. I know people think that McCain stepping away from the debate is a politcal move, but so is not returning to vote on the bill. If Obama does not vote on it, then he doesn't have to take responsibility if it doesn't work; if he votes while away, later on you could be hearing how he didn't have all the information and would change his vote.

    There have been plenty of opportunities to debate, and discussing the issues without a prepared speech certainly has not hurt McCain so far, so I doubt fear has much to do with it. He has infinitely more experience than Obama in debating.

    I wonder what the reaction would have been if Senator Obama had suggested coming back.

    September 24, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
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