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. Raleigh

    Ths a delay tactic of John McCain. He knows that he is not prepared for the debate. The debate was scheduled a long time ago. Let the games begin!

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. McCain suspends his campaign to help US Economy

    McCain needed some time to see his doctor and get prepared for the debate. He has been campaigning everyday and cant study at the same time. I wonder which of his 13 cars will take him to Washington.

    He needs to let the America people see the debates and judge on who has the merit to lead us forward...the election date is not going to change...Voting has begun...this is just as sick as Lipstick on a Pig.

    Obama must not back down...the Congress and the President will act...the Presidential nominees will vote when the bill is ready and McCain needs to get ready for the debates on Friday.

    Yes We Can and Yes We Will

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. Alex

    This is a pathetic political stunt on behalf on the McCain campaign. McCain is the weaker of the candidates on several fronts, but, most notably, when it comes to the economy. Obama has the edge in the polls when it comes to this. McCain is trying to look like a take charge kind of guy when all he is really doing is buying himself time. While the crisis is certainly crucial, it does not call for a suspension of either campaign, and, most certainly, does not require a delay in the first debate. With only 40 or so days til election day, the debates are crucial. McCain amazes me more and more every day...


    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  4. ME

    CNN – Cobama News Network

    What foreign policy experience does Obama have exactly??????
    The "Obama Middle East/European Vacation" doesn't count.
    HE is running for PRESIDENT, right?

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  5. david

    this is an absurd stall tactic. my guess is the republicans will want to call off the debates all together. I hope obama's group does not allow this to happen.

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. TERRY

    If Obama takes this bate he will lose the election!! The only way mcCain can win is to divert the focus of the campain away from his terrible selection of Palin and other decisions he has made that are causing him to slip in the poles. He has put Obama and the country in a terrible position. If he stops the campain Palin gets a free ride to the white house(you know she will cancel her debate) without anyone knowing who she is. If he stays on the campain trail republicans will say its because he does not care about our country. The election of the next president of the USA is maybe the only thing more important than the crisis we now face.

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. Faith

    We need these debates no more than ever, in order to make an informed decision on which candidate is bets suited to serve our country in a time of crisis. Calling for a delay at this point, I think, is ridiculous. Taking a few hours at a time to inform the public on your policies isn't going to make our economic problems any worse than they already are. Work together, of course, but backing out of the debates indicates that you're not prepared to answer tough quesitons.

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. terry

    Isn't this the time that we most need to hear from the candidates to see where they stand so that we can make an informed decision? Now more than ever ...
    Given MCain's reluctance to take questions and the current movement in the polls towards Obama, it makes me wonder if he is moving into the same bubble in which Gov Palin is housed and of course under the guise of "crisis intervention". If he was so worried about the economic situation, why has he waited this long to suspend his campaign. Why now?!!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. Il_voter

    old mac,
    is scared of debate?

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  10. MinFL

    Do NOT cancel or delay the debate!!

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |




    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. Loud & Proud Leftie

    Sometimes leadership means there's multi-tasking involved. One of the many problems with Bush was that he was incapable of working on more than 1 issue at a time. Katrina? No can do, he had to fly off to give John McCain a birthday cake.

    By all means, Senators Obama & McCain, work on the economy but please debate as well. One of you will be the next leader of the US and we need someone who's willing to commit the time and energy that's desperately needed. Surely you can give us 2 hours on Friday night.

    But, I do think this is another crazy McCain campaign ploy. Grampy isn't ready for the debate so he's hiding behind the economy and hoping to appear magnanimous.

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. Florida for ObamaBiden 08

    This gets more interesting by the minute... what in the world

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. democratic from tx

    he's not the president.

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. timi

    This is all a political stunt. From what I know the call came from the Obama campaign first.

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. McCain- Using Every Trick in The Book

    That is a mistake for McCain. Now he will get out done on the Senate floor. Poor McCain, just can't stop tripping over himself with these poor decision. And so people want him to be our next President? It's hard to think of someone being worst than W, but I guess anything is possible.

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |


    I guess McCain wasn't joking about putting politics aside when necessary and working across the aisle to get the job done.

    Sen. McCain you have earned my respect and my vote TODAY!

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  18. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    This is a back pedal/CYA move for McCain, as Harry Reid had recently announced that McCain was going to support the bailout. So unless Reid is lying, McCain HAD decided to support the bill, but, dare I say it? He flip-flopped and decided he does not support it. This is a well-timed move to avoid the debate Friday night which he would surely lose to future POTUS Obama. I hope that Sen. Obama does not fall prey to this tactic. McCain is scared!
    OBAMA/BIDEN '08 & '12 YES WE CAN!

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  19. Bridget

    What? This is not a game. What's next? Suspend the presidential election? McCain admits the economy is not his strong suit and now he's going to go and "work on it"??? Give me a freaking break!

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  20. bmore4real

    are you really that scared to debate obama?

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  21. deborah, WV

    McCain is making this dramatic step in "suspending his campaign" not because he is so "concerned" for the American public, but because he wants to divert public attention from the fact that he is up to his neck in this financial melt down. mess. His campaign advisor Ric Davis was receiving 15 thousand a month from Fannie Mae up until last month. Guess they won't be getting a check this month!!

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  22. Dave in NYC

    JOHN McCAIN IS CHICKENING OUT, because he's SCARED he will not do well in a debate when Americans are worried about the economy.

    Don't cancel the debate: Let's see just how well John McCain is "prepared to lead."

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. Iowa grant

    This is a fine idea, but it reeks of McCain's constant attempts to hijack a situation in midstream by acting like now that he wants to do something everyone should get on board his train, even if his opponent or the rest of congress are already busy doing equally concerned work.

    Like this situation is new and everything McCain is saying hasn't already been said in a less self-centered manner.

    The economic situation will last well into the election and after, delaying the debate seems like a play for time on McCain's part now that he's crumbling.

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. Cindy from NC

    Interesting.. I can see returning to Washington, but I can't see delaying the debates..

    Sounds like a delay tatic to me so he can regroup because he knows he will not do too well and those polls shows are really not in his favor (really don't believe in polls) but I believe in hearts of hearts.. this is a move to delay the debates.

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Oliver

    If McCain wants to be the President then I think he should debate Obama this Friday. Common, President's deal with several issues at once. I think it's just a political stunt by the McCain camp, and I seriously don't want a man who doesn't understand about the economy to solve this crisis.

    September 24, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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