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. simmerdownow

    Could it be that McCain doesn't want to debate this issue? What better time to discuss the economy? Come on Obama...don't you cave!

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. cbtld

    What a shrewd stunt this is by someone who knows he is going to get trounced in the debates. the sad part is that America and the Obama campaign are probably going to fall for this. As always, the Reps are shameless.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  3. Derek Y.

    What? What the heck? He can't campaign for president while fulfilling his other duties?

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. Ray

    Things not going his way so he has to mix it up and try to stop the trends... good strategy. But people see through it, and it is not going to work. The campaigns should continue while they address these important issues. You cannot call a "timeout" while being President. Multi-task and get it done.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. USAF Staff Sergeant

    Nice trick. "Putting country before my campaign."

    Oh... look... It's just a way to try to delay debating and look like he's so concerned about this bailout package.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. what a coward

    seriously mccain. you dont need to be scared of barack. you were a POW!

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. Kentucky

    The Debates are the most important thing that the candidates can do now. Americans have the right to see these candidates debate each other, and hear their plans for our future. It is more important today, than it was last month, that they debate.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. LT

    Oh OK...I thought the economy was sound an we were just whining. Now all of the sudden it's in such bad shape that a debate can't continue as scheduled. Which is it?

    I guess the the telegraph which was meant to tell McCain of the failing economy finally reached him.

    Just typical political tactics.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. David Newport, OR

    He knows that if the economy stays an issue he will lose...Wasn't it just last week that McCain stated that the fundamentals of our economy is sound? Now it is a disaster? Shows you how far removed this guy is from reality.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. D in Phoenix


    I'm glad that Sen. McCain is on the job!

    Where the hell was he when all of this mess occurred?

    Oh yes, he and his economic adviser, Phil Gramm were CREATING the situation by gutting all regulation.

    Always the showman, never the statesman!

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  11. Franky

    I'm sorry guys but this is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. Would somebody tell the Senator that he's running for President. I don't care who did that, or who said who, what the heck is this? All of a sudden we turned into a country of shame?? The election is about 6 weeks from now and I hear that the Senator is suspending his campaign? I don't get this...

    I swear, I'm getting ticked of every minute...

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. Patty, Big Bear, CA

    Just figured out he can't compete.....

    Here's reality....McCain is not president, Obama is not president.....McCain is blowing smoke by saying he has to work on it (not his job) and then criticizes Obama for not working on it (not his job either).

    These issues need to be answered by the person who is the president, but he of course has no idea.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. Jay Z

    nice way to save Palin from being roasted at the debates

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Hope Monger

    Suspend away Grampa – We have campaigning to do. By the way, are you going to try to co-opt "patriotism" for the sake corporate welfare along with being a war monger? If so, I must clearly not be a patriot.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. Trish

    McCain waits till now to suspend the debates,excuse me, he surely does not want to debate Obama on National TV. I want a debate and I want it this Friday !!!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  16. Kevan, Arkansas

    Wow! That is a bold and respectable move on McCain's part.

    Still not voting for him.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  17. Yetty for Obama 08!

    He is just scared

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  18. oiled

    Brilliant!! Obama now has to follow McCain and return to to washington or continue his campaign while McCain tries to fix the bailout plan. nice move.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  19. Tony

    hmmm... not quite ready to debate John? Nice manuver.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. gpm

    Right, he needs more time to prepare and this is just a so-called interest in the regulation of the markets , which he had never wanted to do prior to this week.

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. Not Ready to Lead, Just plain not ready

    Do us a favor John "Maverick" and suspend your campaign for good so America can move on and original real change candidate can go to work for us.

    Palin can then go back to thinking and speaking for herself and moose hunting.

    Your not ready to lead and your scared to Debate because Rove can not be there to tell you what to say...

    Obama-Biden 08'

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  22. NiceTry

    Nice Try McCain, but it'll take more than that to get out of this one...

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. President McCain

    A born leader, not one propped up by the media.


    MCCAIN/ PALIN '08!!!

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

    What grandstanding! Does anyone think that Congress is waiting for a plan from the guy who has several times admitted he doesn't know much about economics? Is he consulting the person he said is the best economist, Phil Gramm, who says our recession is imaginary and we are whinners? The fights for deregulation by Gramm and McCain have gone a long way to get us into this mess. Why should anyone trust their judgment for anything?

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  25. Vincent, Great Lakes IL

    Now is the time to multi-task. Go to Washington during the day, Thursday and Friday, do the debate Friday night and back to Washington on Saturday. How hard is it? I mean I (as others) often fly around the country for business and then fly home that same evening to go to various meetings before having to return to work the next day. Really.... I mean it... How hard is that???

    September 24, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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