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. georgia independent

    The Fox polls got you down? Fox shows Obama leading 45 to 39. McCain wants to just break the momentum – he's on the run!

    September 24, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. First Time Voter!


    OBAMA / BIDEN '08

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. Ole

    What this doesn't mention is how woefully unprepared Johnny is for the debates. This is like a high schooler pulling the fire alarm before his algebra midterm. Yet, somehow, if Obama doesn't agree he looks like the bad guy. Well played, John.

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. democrat in az

    I stand no chance in the debate so I'm suspending my campaign for President.


    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. NoMcSame, Ohio

    what is Mr McSame not ready?

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. Lynn: 60 yr old white Obama supporter

    Although I am glad the two candidates are working together on this, McCain showed the true sleazy politician he is by going behind Obama's back to issue this statement.

    This isn't bipartisan action on McCain's part; it is an act of a desperate man trying to show leadership and to gain poilitical advantage!! He would have shown true bipartianship had he followed the agreed plan of a joint statement. Pathetic that he does this by mentioning September 11th.

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. Amber

    Why? Because he's afraid Obama might bring up Keating 5 and Davis' ties to Fannie & Freddie at the debate?

    Panicking and running around like a chicken with its head cut off is a rookie move, McCain.

    I don't buy it, I doubt many Americans buy it either.

    A debate means a slip in Republican numbers, and McCain is about to lose Virginia...

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. JC

    There is no reason to suspend arguably the most important Presidential campaign in modern history. Yes, Congress has much work to do, but there are 100 other Senators in Washington to do the work on the ground. McCain and Obama can read the briefings and participate in conference calls, and should be prepared to debate on Friday even with the current economic crisis. This is not a crisis that requires immediate intervention. I didn't see McCain suspending his campaign when Hurricanes Gustav and Ike blew through Texas and Louisiana, and those people actually could have used the help. Focus on the campaign and give the voters every chance to figure out who the best candidate is through you campaign stops and the debate.

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. Arin

    Why isn't McCain suspending his campaign IMMEDIATELY? That is, why is not canceling everything he has scheduled today, canceling his talk at the Clinton Global Initiative tomorrow, hopping on a plane and flying to Washington NOW. I mean NOW!!!
    Sounds like a lot of smoke and mirrors to me.

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. Greg

    It's a cheap stunt! He's down in the polls, and its showing he is behind the times when it comes to he has to do something to make it LOOK like he's a leader. When in fact he's a glory hound!

    He did the same thing with his VP pick. He saw Obama was gaining poll advantage, so he had to come up with a huge scene stealer.

    And people will fall for this act! People will actually think this guy is leading when in fact he's posturing. How dumb are the votes in this country when something so obvious is right in front of their face?

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. dhoenig

    This move by McCain is nothing but political!. He was trailing in the polls due to the economic issues, so his people had to have him do something drastic to cosmetically make it look like he knew something about the economy. Also, McCain needing to say
    something needs to be done and completed by the end of this week smells of policatical grandstanding and as a stop gap message. It's interesting that McCain has not voiced his opinion on CEO pay which is part of this discussion.

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  12. Jean, CANADA

    BARACK!!!!!!!! DON'T DO IT!!!!!!!!

    He has boxed you in a corner with this scheme. If you say no then McCain will paint you as "wanting to win the election more than take care of the country." If you agree, it looks like it was Mcain's idea and he will exploit the situatioin and say he cares more about the country than you!!!

    It is a very smart, political move – but nefarious. Everyone should point out that once again it is McCain who is putting the election above everything else regardless of what he tries to do.

    If Mccain cannot multi-task and run a campaign (aka GOVERMENT) and take care of a crisis at the same time, then what the hell is he doing running for POTUS- the single most important position on this planet???

    He is unfit mentally, physically and most important spiritually to run your country (anybody who acts the way he has cannot be a child of God).

    OBAMA 08, 12 the TRUTH....think about it...then VOTE...I wish we could!!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  13. Misty

    McCain is definitely grandstanding here, Obama reached out to him first... once again McCain is following in the footsteps of Obama because he can't come up with his own ideas, perhaps he needs more time to prepare for the upcoming debate. Nice try!

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  14. Susan

    This is a crafty ploy by McCain, but Obama should not buy into it. Mr. Town Hall Meeting now wants to change the date? Ridiculous.

    There is absolutely no reason to reschedule. Negotiations can continue without McCain, and can even bleed into next week if need be. Frankly, I think he's jumping on the 'shove it through quickly' GOP bandwagon, rather than using a pragmatic approach to the problem.

    No. The debate should continue as planned.

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  15. kelly harvey

    i know this needs fixed, but I am also under the understanding that friday is recess for those in washington, am i to believe that ,that doesnt play into the reason for the rush, if so i have a bridge for sale somewhere

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  16. D

    Hmm, sounds like Mr McCain hasn't done his homework for the debate and now wants to cancel. Why not use the debate and.... debate the economy!

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    John McCain has missed EVERY SINGLE Senate vote since now suddenly he wants to do his job instead of run for a new one? 'Country First'?...give me a break!

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. AJ

    I'll say this much for McCain: He's got guts. This is a bold move, one which, if done correctly, might be a tremendous display of leadership on McCain's part.

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  19. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    "Most Americans feel very strongly this isn't their fault. It's Wall Street and Washington and the cozy insider relationships that have caused a great part of the problems," McCain said. My question, where has McCain been for the last 26 years when he supported the former Senator Phil Graham in not regulating the Wall Street Moguls? McCain is part of the problem; now he wants to be part of the solution......a truly oxymoron.

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. Cyrus K.

    About bloody time!

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. tony

    Don't bail out WALL Street-These crooks have gotten rich off the backs of every America-
    Sue each and everyone of them that defrauded the public –Instead of paying them extra -
    The system will not collapse but if we bail them out once we will be doing it again–
    WE NEED TERM LIMITS in Congress so they start working for us instead of their individual deals and we need some oversight and a pay back plan for any monies issued to these mismanaged buisnesses-
    Nobody is going to bail out my small buisness because of their mismanagement of my funds-SCREW THEM !!!

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. lisel schwarzenbach

    I have to say, that McCain is using every stall tactic that he can to prevent more damage to his campaign; He's been acting like a fish out of water, flip flopping on the deck, about how to manage this crisis, and now wants to suspend his campaign???? Does the President get to suspend his presidency when a crisis occurs???....I don't think so........He has to respond, and life keeps on going. Just my 2 flabbergasted cents.

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. VA girl for Obama

    This is the best McSame can do to stop the debate. We see who you are, MCCain, you can not hide between you small suit and short arms...We know you don't have a clue on what to do to fix the economy... Give me a break...NEXT!!!!!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  24. Chris A

    For a real war hero, he's really acting like a ChickenHawk. He's clearly running away from the debate. If he cares about the American people, he'll take the 1 1/2 hr. (that's it!) to debate on Friday like he agreed to. This move reeks of desperation.

    McCain & Palin should start talking or get out of the way!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  25. Mike Kaplan

    People should remember that presidential elections were held in the middle of WW2, in the middle of the great depression, and all through the cold war.

    Maybe John McCain wants to delay the debate because this has been a bad two weeks for him, and he needs more time for people to forget that he said "The fundamentals of the economy are strong".

    Obama should call this stunt out for what it is- a cowardly and desparate gimmick from a failing campaign that has had nothing to offer but lies, lies, lies. Disgusting.

    September 24, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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