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. Nonsense

    McCain is sensing drop in popularity and wants to divert attention. He wants to fool people again as if he is the leader. What an empty suit. He does not have any idea. All he has is the lobbyists who screwed up the market and polluted Washington. Obama – Don't fall for this....

    September 24, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Margi

    No, no, no, a thousand times no. Next he will want to suspend the Palin/Biden debate. It's too late, the "Palin/MaCain" ticket is already on the ballot and the American people will not allow you to hide from it.

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

    I think the spirit of what McCain is saying is right, although at the same time, it's still important for voters and the public to know who is running. The election is only a few weeks away...after all, McCain is the one who wanted multiple town halls with Obama. This is partially due to him being freaked out at very easily going down in flames for all of his flip-flopping on the crisis.

    You can still "suspend campaigning" to focus on the current issues and debate. Who's running now, buddy???

    September 24, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  4. J

    I understand that I country is going through a rough time right now, but I think that this debate should happen. We need to hear from the canidates. What's the matter, McCain not ready?

    September 24, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. rm

    Oh my God!!! McCain is such a snake. No interviews or access to Palin. Now he wants to hide from the public too. This smells so fishy.

    September 24, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. McShame, Houston TX

    Nice try!!! Please dont trust them!!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. psittacines

    Ummm, well, gee, golly......

    I think we should , uh, postpone the debates until, until, the, you know, crisis in Washington is, like solved. Yes I do, yes I do..... 🙂

    Nice try, fool. Your fear of the media is showing.

    September 24, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  8. alexa

    hey atleast he's really trying !!

    September 24, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  9. Idaho for Obama

    First good thing I've seen McCain do. However, it's going to take more than a couple days to fix eight years of problems.

    September 24, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. Paul

    McCain: Mercy! Timeout!

    September 24, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. Jeffer -N.M.

    I truly want to believe that McCain's decision isn't politically motivated. However, his recent actions lead me to believe this is just a political stunt.

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  12. Rob Bruck

    Postpone the Debate? Why? I can't imagine that spending an evening debating Senator Obama would significantly affect Senator McCain's ability to vote on the economic recovery plan. It seems more likely that Senator McCain is not prepared for the debate, and wants more time to make up for his poor planning.

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  13. dawn

    Postponing the debates is absurd! The American people need to hear the candidates discuss the issues now more than ever!

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  14. Matt MC

    I doubt that Congress will be discussing this at 8PM on Friday...I would think he could do both...this smacks of a ploy to me...

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  15. Hopeful Floridian

    what a joke!! Obama met with business people last week already. McCain is only catching on now and using it to try and gain political advantage! I think he is afraid of debating with Obama on Friday....


    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  16. Emily

    Great initiative, McCain. Or at least switch the topic of debate to economy.

    In addition, please also consider replacing Palin with Clinton, while you gain some time in NY, sitting with Clintons in HIV initiatives. Hillary will be great value in fixing Wall Streat and Main Street. She has met every world leader. You will get 100% of Clinton supporters.

    Obama, you should hurry. We told you.

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  17. Pander, Pander, Pander.

    Hey, McCain, if there's anyone who needs to be as far, far away from this mess as possible, it's you. The guy who was a starting member of the Keating 5, and is has some insane amount of members involve in the biggest bankruptcy in world history needs to STAY AWAY. Please stay on the campaign trail, because you and your cronies have "helped" enough already.

    Also, way to throw in 9/11 there, just for fun and pandering. I'm sure they're TOTALLY related. I'm sure you'll work being a POW and Sarah Palin's family in there somewhere, too.

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. DGW

    They have been so dirty and devious that I am not falling for this. It is a campign tatic!

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. Marc

    Running scarred is more like it. John McCain sees Barack Obama running away with this election and wants to take the focus off Sarah Palin who is hurting his campaign now more than she is helping him.


    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. Dot

    McCain has started to panic. There is a lot in this country that is going wrong if he wants to suspend his compaign, he might as well suspend the entire elections until all the problems are solved

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Emit R Detsaw

    Very funny McCain. You haven't been to Congress since April and now you want to hide from the Presidential Debate.

    Ever hear of air travel. It's a great invention. You can be in Washington working the job you are paid to do, and still take part in the Debate on Friday. You should have to prepare for a debate. Just get up and answer questions – honestly.

    If you are capably of that!!!!

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |

    This smells like a political move and now Barack has been put in a conner. How much would it cost to buy this (TIME)????

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  23. Chris

    What on EARTH!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    OK Republicans. Dispute THAT. Seriously, this is McCan trying to get out of and delay the debate.
    John McCain did jack all as a senator these last few months. Why would he start doing something now?

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  24. Will from NYC

    Translation: I don't want to debate while my poll numbers are down... how much of a Postponement?? 1 day, 60 days...

    should we cancel the election too???

    Suddenly McCain needs to save his reputation.... too late.

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  25. Gene

    This is something like the strategy that coaches use in football and basketball games. When the opposing team is preparing to kick a field goal or shoot a free throw, the team on defense calls timeout. This is intended to break up the other team's momentum. It works sometimes, but I think McCain's time ran out when he made the ridiculous statement that the fundamentals of the economy was strong.

    September 24, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
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