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. ktodman

    Why is the Obama Campaign lying, McCain did the right thing for the country "Country First", Obama once again is following behind and trying to take credit as usual, he is a fake.

    Thanks John McCain

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. Copycat

    Obama asked for bi-partisonship *three* days AGO.

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. Liz Chenery

    I feel pretty confident that many people are going to make this appear as though McCain is running away. I will say that I'm glad they're making an effort to unite, as I'm worried about what will happen when a new president is elected and half the country is unhappy with the choice. Maybe this will remind everyone that no matter who wins, we must unite as one country once it is finished, and work together to make the future brighter for BOTH Republicans and Democrats.
    However, I am disappointed that the debate is being pushed back, as I was looking forward to finally getting to some substance of the issues rather than just hearing ads and finger-pointing.

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Heather, Cleveland, OH

    Sorry if I sound a little jaded when it comes to the McCain camp, but this smacks to me of a political stunt to make Obama look bad and to postpone a debate for which McCain doesn't clearly feel ready.

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. Lynnette

    Don't fall for it Obama. I think McCain is not ready for the debate. How can someone "suspend their campaign" to work on the economy when they have stated that they don't know that much about the economy? He's one of the reasons why the economy is in the sad shape that it's in now.
    Just say NO.

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. RZjr

    Well, if it was Obama's idea, it would only be because of his inexperience with foreign policy....

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Lawyers for Obama

    McCain is scared. I am beyond sick of his tatics. I don't trust him, just like i dont trust Bush's Bailout Plan.


    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. My Common Sense Actually Works

    IMVHO, I think it is another ploy by the Mr. McCain and the RNC as a delaying tactic so they will have enough time to think what exactly are they going to do for the current financial crisis and to let some steam come off for the Republican party. Unfortunately for the RNC, the wall street disaster has given Mr. Obama the boost and actually refocuses the people 's attention to what is really important ( and that wouldn't be Mrs. Palin's debutant ball, i daresay). Surveys have shown that more than 50% of the nation thinks the economy's woes are because of the republicans. More than ever, the American people needs the debate because I believe we need answers and concrete ideas to what will happen in the next 4 years. Postponing it for a day or two won't change anything. The entire world is looking at America's economy. Don't you think that is the greatest pressure of all to force the present government to do something. I am not belittling Mr. McCain's "honorable" motives but I don't think that both McCain and Obama can do something drastic to change it when "everyone" in the government is already trying to figure things out. Doing the debate as scheduled is actually more help to the people to decide on what they want for their future and their sons or daughter's future. Besides, in less than 50 days, wall street may still be weak but there would be a different president with perhaps a different approach by then.

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. HM

    McGrampy is scared!

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. L. D. Koch

    This is a ridiculous stunt cooked up to avoid the first debate as John McCain and his handlers begin to realize his campaign is going down the tubes. Let Congress do its job and then vote on the final plan. To use this economic crisis as a way to avoid the first debate, and thereby prove how weak a candidate he is, John McCain only proves more and more why he will lose this election.

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  11. pj

    it's simple, if you delay this debate, then you have to delay the debate between Palin and Biden, he's equally scared of that.

    nice try, mr maverick, but you know that debating at this time when americans blame republicans 2 to 1 for the economic woes, that you dont want to be up in front of that many viewers being proven to be an avid deregulator.

    the debate goes on. now is the time to debate. you keep crying that there aren't more debates, so debate. its friday night, the markets are closed and Paulson is asleep anyway.

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. Lee - TX it was actually OBAMA who contacted John McCain in the hopes of issuing a bi-partisan statement, and showing true leadership in the process. And then it was MCCAIN who twisted that for political gain by issuing a statement without Obama that makes it look like he's above board, not to mention adding the extra effort of trying to wriggle his slimy way out of the debate on Friday? Interesting. That's right, McCain, Country First. It doesn't matter if you have to steal someone else's idea to do it.

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  13. al

    talk about bailing out when times get tough...maybe it would be better if they kept the debate, but changed the subject to the economy

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  14. Jim

    Smart move on McCain's part. He was getting killed in the polls over his economic philosophies. He also knew the debates were focused on Foreign policy and that Iraq would be center stage, putting more light on the amount of money we're spending to "help" the Iraqis while Americans are hurting.

    He's going home to lick his wounds and hide behind the "crisis"

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. Renee

    Don't do it Barack. This just proves McCain doesn't know how to multitask – he is not ready to President. This is crazy and another republican scam!

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. Byrd

    hmmm no coverage for his vp pick and now he wants to delay the debates????either mcains not ready or he has something up his sleeve

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

    I guess he is going to fix the economic problems all on his own. Sorry Mr. McCain but your running like a dog with it's tail between it's legs. You know you are a lousy debater, and that there will never be a rescheduled debate. America, this should be a wake up call. He and his PAL IN lies will never get to the Whitehouse.

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  18. Dave in RI

    This from mister "fundamentaly strong economy"...

    He and Bush must have really screwed things up...

    10 to 1 away from the camera he Asks Obama how to make it all better, because he doesn't have clue 1.

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. Dough

    Ok so change the subject for the debate to the Economy and hash it out there... They are trying to kill two birds with one stone here...Delay all the debates indefinately and rush through a rediculous bail out plan..and if Obama says "Nope, lets have the debate" then McCain will look like he is putting "Country First" Tell me why someone who is on record saying to the effect "I dont know jack about the economy" suddenly is needed to help figure out this mess? Whatever

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 24, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  20. Annette, Washington, DC

    This a poltical trickery game, if it was so important to devote time to work on the economy, why wasn't this decision made days ago?? The polls are scaring the McCain camp, again by any means necessary.

    September 24, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  21. Oregon calling

    Houston, I think we have a problem!

    Ok, so, oversights are going in, exec.’s compensation is being deliberated on, mortgage pieces are being put into play, but no one has addresses what about those people that were too poor to even get a home and that have been laid off one or more times in the last few years? They just get to help pay the bill but not get any benefits?!?! This too needs to be addressed. But hey, I am just a little fish in a big pond that will be gobbled up without anyone taking any notice 🙁
    Obama / Biden 08

    September 24, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  22. John

    mc cain is doesnt want to debate the economy what a coward.

    September 24, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  23. Ariana

    Ugh please. You didn't do anything for 26 years. You know NOTHING about the economy, yet you're going to suspend your campaign????

    Give me a break!

    September 24, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  24. please

    give me a break – there is a different reason you don't want to debate – because you have no ideas. You can't simply stand up there saying Obama this and Obama that. Sorry John, at the debates you actually have to start talking about what you stand for and since pandering to the rich isn't a great debate theme, you've got nothing.

    September 24, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  25. gas from PA

    John, I support you, but you've fallen into the trap of asking "what's the government going to do about this". How about nothing? Why should I trust a government solution? Why should I think the price will stop at $700B? I'll bet it goes over $1T.

    John, this problem will outlast the campaign, so it sounds like you just want to approve the $700B package and move on.

    If you want less government, then let's have less government. This whole mess is a trap for the Republicans and for the taxpayers. I feel the hands of both parties on my wallet – does anyone think $700B comes for free?! Let these financial houses fail!

    What is it with our entitlement-driven culture today? This $700B bailout is no different from bailing out New Orleans after it's been destroyed numerous times by flooding, or bailing out the insurers who do business there. Why do we do this to ourselves?

    September 24, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
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