September 24th, 2008
03:02 PM ET
13 years ago

McCain to 'suspend campaign,' calls for first debate to be delayed

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="McCain is calling for the debate to be suspended."](CNN) - John McCain announced Wednesday he is suspending his campaign on Thursday morning and returning to Washington to work on the financial crisis. He also called on the Commission on Presidential Debates to postpone the first faceoff until Congress has completed work on a bailout package.

Watch: McCain's announcement

“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,” he said in New York.

“I am calling on the President to convene a leadership 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 said.

Obama's campaign said that the Democratic nominee had called McCain at 8:30 Wednesday morning 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." They also said that McCain returned the call at 2:30 Wednesday afternoon and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement, and that the two campaigns are currently "working together on the details."

In his statement, McCain said he was directing his 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.

“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.”

The McCain campaign said the Republican nominee's scheduled appearance on David Letterman's show Wednesday evening had been canceled.

The White House praised McCain's statement. "We welcome Sen. McCain's announcement," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. "We are making progress in negotiations on the financial markets rescue legislation, but we have not finished it yet. Bipartisan support from Sens. McCain and Obama would be helpful in driving to a conclusion. The financial market crisis is a big problem that requires a big solution, and solving this in a bipartisan way will help prevent economic damage spreading from Wall Street to all Americans."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (1,284 Responses)
  1. christal

    McCain is not prepared to face Obama in the debates. This crisis is the responsibility of the current administration. This is unbelievable – unbeliebably insane. The American people want to see the debate as scheduled.

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. Gee

    McCain just got save on his way to Damascus! He is trying to use this as a political game. Obama, please don't fall for it. Continue your campaign and go for the debate!

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. PC

    MCcain needs a break. Too tired. Too much bad news for his campaign.

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Karen

    Like he really cares! He must have found out that he's behind in
    the polls.This happened under his party's watch so I guess
    he should be there to share the blame.

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. SEA

    What does a fantasy and he is the Super Hero that will solve all the problems; he can dictate to another candidate the choices they should make~get a life McCain, your running scared and looking foolish!

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. First time voter

    Lol someone wants to get some attention !!!!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  7. paul

    Smart move! Doing this makes McCain look more like the bi-partisan McCain of his past, which is a good thing. Of course, America will be looking for RESULTS. Good luck with that.
    It also puts Obama on his heels. He has to respond in a positive way, and accept that he didn't come with idea first... Not the leadership role he would want to come across with. It'll be interesting and perhaps quite telling how this plays out.

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. MKP

    What a HYPOCRITE Sen John McCain is. I watched his announcement, looked into his eyes, and I believe in my heart-of-hearts that this is a ploy to stop the fast pace of this train that is about to run him over in this election. I believe Romney and the gang advised him to do this and it just absolutely stinks. Mr. Obama should not fall for the trick. The American people see what's going on!!! We also know that these two Senators' absence from the bailout scrimmage during the Debate is not going to make much difference. SHAME ON YOU SEN JOHN MCCAIN.!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  9. linda

    Give me a break. McCain admitted publicly that his knowledge of economics is weak. Now he wants to wimp out of a debate to work on the bailout. Sounds like politics as usual from the GOP candidate.

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. JD in NC

    No way!


    Running from the debate? Does he think that the government can't operate without him?

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. MARY

    What a little weasal. You know nothing is going to be resolved by Friday with this economic crisis. He is just trying to weasal out of it and prolong it as long as he can so he won't look so bad during the debate.

    Fine, just move the debate to Washington, but McCain don't weasal out of it.

    Obama, DON'T GIVE IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. Brendan

    A good way for the McCain campaign to buy some time and actually figure out what some of its own issues are.

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Sharon in Mi..

    What a gimmick. What a way to change the tide McCain. He is getting hammered for his lack of knowledge on the most important issue facing Americans today, the economy.
    I hope Obama lets him know he is capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. Let the debates go on so we can really see what a little pressure will do to this old guy, McCain.

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. MLD ND

    .Sounds like the working together thing was Obama's idea.

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  15. Vote08

    What is Mccain thinking? He doesn't actually believe that Obama would show up to Washinton to help with our current economic crisis does he? I mean, Obama will do what he's always done since becoming a senator...he'll vote PRESENT and continue working on his presedential bid. Obama could care less about this country...his only interest is in himself.

    Obama needs to think about writing his third book on himself because making up stories is clearly what he's good at.

    McCain/Palin 08

    September 24, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. Vincent Spaulding

    Translation: Although the debate is supposed to be concerned with international issues I'm sure that the economy will enter into the discussion since we are spending loads and loads of money for a useless war in Iraq. Let's just cancel it so I can dream up a few lies to spin for the rescheduled event.

    September 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  17. Jr


    Obama Campagin say No reason to cancel debate on friday, suspened cmpaign… so I AGREE WITH OBAMA SAID……..

    September 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  18. Bob Indianapolis IN

    My friends, he's trying to buy time because the Rick Davis scandal is tanking his hopes for the presidency! If Obama has to show up on stage with an empty chair where McSame should be, it won't make much difference...

    September 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. Lou

    How can anybody NOT see that this is a political stunt by McCain to show his "leadership and judgement"?
    He's been on the stump everyday asking Obama to debate him and now that the time is here he wants to postpone it?!!?
    I think the country will survive if the debate is held 'as originally scheduled'...hell...the country has suffered thru the Clinton/Bush administrations for the past 16 years.
    One more night of waiting won't hurt us.
    Have your stupid debate!

    Besides...I need the material for my stand-up show.
    The two of you are a gift to comedians all over the globe!


    September 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  20. hmmm...

    At first it says that McCain like he initiated this.. .but you read further into this... and Obama is the one that ORIGINALLY got this whole thing going. McCain is just adding to it for his own Political Gain!

    Obama is the true leader!!

    September 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  21. Renee

    Way to go McCain! I'm glad that I'm supporting you. Country before campaign! Let's see how Obama can spin this one!

    September 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. Annette

    What a ploy, does he think he is so important that his presence is needed all of a sudden. He hasn't been in DC all year, he is only one man why should this make a difference?

    Running scared are we McCain???? Thinking this will make him look good all of a sudden with the voters and gain him some points in the polls.

    Sure hope people are not that gullible.

    September 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. Bushwhacked in Eugene, OR

    Hmmmmm... on the surface, yep, both of you ought to be there working on this. But methinks there's more to the story. In cahoots with the GOP on something nefarious? Scared of the debates?

    Sorry - I just don't trust the motives here. What can they do in DC that's not being done, other than make speeches? Be there for the vote, yes indeedy. Otherwise - suspending campaigns this near the election smacks of Carl Rove and that nasty little Bush power to suspend the election itself if he deems it necessary.

    As if his little pea-brain could figure out when it was necessary.

    September 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  24. Boye

    OMG, this guy is freaking coy. He has nothing to lose by doing this since he is behind. I have to admit, this was a good move. But I am still voting for Obama.

    September 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  25. Charlie

    instead of suspending their campaign they should debate... about the economy!

    hey john: i thought our economy would be fundamentaly stron?

    September 24, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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