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. Judy

    What happened? The nation has been looking forward to this debate for some time. It is very important to the people who are making an important decision. Did John McCain decide that he wasn't prepared? Why did he need to call off the debate because of the bail out? He had all week to go to DC and add his ideas. What is it that he had to do in DC that he couldn't hop on a plane on Friday and debate Obama. Something stinks here.

    September 24, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. An American Patriot

    The United States of America proudly and rightly proclaims itself as the defender of Freedom throughout the world. Our legacy lies in the "steady rock" of our Democratic Institutions. At this nation's darkest hour, when brother waged war against brother, and the nation was divided by Civil War, we held a presidential election that re-elected a certain statesman from Illinois.

    If we can hold an election and debate the great issues of the day during time of war, how can we suspend a campaign because a few very rich people on Wall Street gambled and lost? Great challenges do no wait for the timid or the meek.

    Now is the time to debate these issues in public and let the nation decide in whom we will put our trust. We are a collectively wise people – we will make the right choice - just trust us.

    September 24, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. Jessie S.C.

    It may sound good , but some of the eggs in the basket are rotten. Obama should say no because it will be used as a campaign gimmick no matter what the outcome on Wall Street. There are 48 Senators and 465 Representator available in DC. McCain is trying to show his leadership or lack of leadership ability for campaign purposes to increase the poll ratings?

    Will that leave the pitbull out there flapping without lipstick for the weekend? If this debate don't go as plan than the joke will be on Obama.

    You are being played as a sucker so show McCain whos' the lollipop.

    I hate to say it but I no the answer.

    September 24, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  4. Corey Gabriel

    No way!!! Have the debate. McCain and Obama are not needed in Washington to work on the bailout....their Senatorial and House surrogates will take care of that. This is just a grandstand ploy and trick by McCain to once again divert attention. Once they have completed the debate that the American people have been waiting months to see, they can return to Washington for the weekend to wrap up the bailout legislation....and, don't let Bush get involved at all, he and his administration/party allowed this crisis to explode....this is just a September suprise by the Republicans.

    September 24, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  5. Marla L

    Why didn't McCain do this years ago. WHy now?"??????

    September 24, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  6. Jim Dickson

    McCain is reading the tea leaves: He sees that the nation-rightly so- regards him as an economic light weight and with the polls showing the tide building for Obama has come up with a Palin-esque move to make him appear as a real leader. It won't work this time either. Once again, he is willing to turn his back on this nation to quench his thirst to be President.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. Here's the real reason why...

    Your scared!!

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Dale

    It appears from the article that Obama had gotten in touch with him to set up some type of joint-announcement to help them both look good and push the government into doing something. Instead, McCain jumped the gun and made an announcement that he's can't campaign because of other urgent matters.

    No doubt the idea was to say, "Look at me! I'm off to Washington to save the economy!" But what most people will think is that he's either not prepared to debate and/or is afraid to debate Obama. Once again I wonder why no one in McCain's campaign thinks these things through.

    After all, does this mean he can't take two hours out of his "fight" in Washington to attend a debate? Is he so ill-prepared as a leader that he can only concentrate on one thing at a time? The idea behind his decision may be to "one-up" Obama or may even be for pure, heartfelt reasons, but it is bound to backfire on him. He could have pulled this off and looked good; now, he'll just look like he's using the economy crisis as an excuse.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. Nancy K. - Georgia

    Mr. McCain has been for deregulation of the financial services industry for more than 20 years. His involvement with the Keating Five is the precursor for his continued call for deregulating this industry. The polls moved in Mr. Obama's favor so he wants to stop campaigning? What a way to deflect attention away from his lackluster campaign. Of cours the White House would praise McCain's statement – it agrees with Mr. Bush.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  10. Spider

    Now, there's some leadership!!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  11. Texasgyrl in MD

    This was a strategic but sneaky move. Great idea though.

    BARACK the vote!

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  12. Candy West Virginia

    Once again he followed Obama's lead.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. Chantel

    I smell fear!! No Way No How No McCain No McPallin/Bush!!

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. Democrats are funny

    This is a stunt, I was in awe of his unashamed lying and manipulation before. But I will gaion respect if he doesn't use this for political gains.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. margie

    This is what I call leadership. McCain is putting the country first. Obama is in Florida campaigning and practising for Friday's debate while McCain is meeting with economic advisers and trying to help out his country. Wow, guess who has my vote?.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  16. Michael

    I'm sorry, but why does he need to "work on the financial crisis"? Isn't that the job of the President, the Fed Chairman, the Treasury Secretary, and the hundreds of senators and congressional representatives who AREN'T running for president? What exactly is his role in all of this supposed to be? What value can he possibly add to it?

    I might understand if he were the sitting president running for re-election. That would at least be credible.

    Besides which, the economy isn't going to fix itself overnight. Perhaps he'll ask to scrap the debates altogether, because we can bet that the crisis will still be an issue in a month's time.

    We know exactly how he'll spin this - If the Obama camp doesn't agree to postpone the debate, it's because Obama doesn't care about the economy and is trying to make political hay during a crisis. And if they DO agree, he'll probably claim that it was exactly the break Obama was looking for because he's ill-prepared for the debate.

    I don't trust McCain for a moment on this. It's the act of a desperate candidate who knows he's going to get crucified on Friday.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. Gospel

    Why stop the debates. It will not effect the outcome of the financial crisis. As president you have more then one problem on the plate at the same time. If you dont trust those under you to do the Job that they where hired to do then you dont have faith in the people. McCain if you can't pat our head and rub your stomach then get out of the lime light. Trust your people and trust in Palin... it is why you hired her.

    But then again keeping the pitbull on a short leash and in a cage shows how much you trust people and if they dont follow your ideas you just hush them up.

    Get Real and transparent. Hiding things and false cloaks of disguise just show that you are not for the people. People want to know what you think and how you will act. This is not Broadway, but you make it look like a award winning show. Same lines everyday and scripting. Take a bow McCain and find another show.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  18. Brandon In NC

    Are you kidding me? Johnny is all about looking after number 1. His bank account must be getting a little below the 100 million mark.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. Trina in New Mexico

    Good thing to do but ....... he is still politicking by claiming to "care" about the poor people. He can't relate. Period. He wants to postpone the debate to divert attention because of his declining lead. Spare me.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. Amy in Woodstock, NY

    McCain can run but he can't hide from the debate. Why suspend his campaign? Just hand it over to Obama/Biden. What a pathetic excuse by McCain to run from a 90 minute debate. McCain is scared to debate, plain and simple.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  21. yahya

    This is bull, McCain knows that he will be humiliated in the debate and he is afraid to such thing to happen when everyone is disapproving him in recent situations. there is politics written all over this one. I hope Obama doesn't agree and go with the debate.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  22. James

    This is another political ploy on Mccain's part. Now, he's going to say, "I'm above campaigns and Obama is just ambitious for its own sake, and doesn't care about the country."

    I know it sounds cynical, but his campaign has stooped to lower already, and is losing so looking for another swing for the fences.

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  23. Linda Sale

    How consistant of John McCain! Attempting to pre-empt the facts from being pursued by the public. How ignorant he must think we are! First, I must admit he is a quick understudy – he has taken Obama's approaches and made them seem as he Mc Cain was there first! He's been studying for the debate and like his performance at the Naval Academy, he knows he's not up to the challenge! Keeping Palin away from questions, delaying the debates we were all anxiously awaiting, and undercutting Obama's proposal to address jointly the subject is abominable! I guess now he's ready to "take on the Republicans" and become a democrat! That's the only way he can win in November. That and the knowledge that he would only be up for one term due to his age and probably policies anyway so he'd never have to be held accountable for HIS terms actions!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  24. RW


    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  25. mel of dallas

    Why? We have a president in office to deal w/these siuations. Pre-Debate Jitters?

    September 24, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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