September 26th, 2008
02:12 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain made 'huge mistake,' Huckabee says

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Huckabee thinks McCain made a big mistake."]

(CNN) - Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Friday the John McCain made a "huge mistake" by even floating the possibility he would not appear at the first presidential debate as planned.

“You can’t just say, ‘World stop for a moment. I’m going to cancel everything,” Huckabee told the Associated Press Thursday.

Huckabee, who vied with McCain for the GOP presidential nomination long after it appeared McCain was the party's presumptive nominee, has been an on-and-off critic of the Arizona senator. Earlier this summer he took part in a Washington, DC rally calling on McCain and Obama to highlight more evangelical issues on the campaign trail. He also criticized McCain's campaign when it alleged Obama's "lipstick on a pig" comments was an intended slight at Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin.

McCain abruptly announced Wednesday he would travel to Washington in hopes of striking a deal on the economic bailout deal, and said he would not attend a debate unless an agreement had been reached. Late Friday morning campaign aides said McCain felt sufficient progress had been made on the and he would attend the debate.

But the bill itself appears very much up in the air. After what was described by members of both parties as a "contentious" meeting at the White House Thursday afternoon, congressional leaders are still trying to hammer out a compromise on the Bush administration proposal. Speaking to reporters Friday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said McCain's presence on the Hill helped stall negotiations.

"All he has done is stand in front of the cameras," said Reid, who has long had a chilly relationship with McCain. "We still don't know where he stands on the issue."

soundoff (363 Responses)
  1. Kristina, Seattle

    Huckabee should have been the Republican nominee. He's level-headed and sensible. McCain has lost control of his faculties.

    September 26, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. "Enough Progress"

    John McCain said there had been "ENOUGH PROGRESS" work done on the bailout for him to attend the Presidential Debate tonight.........

    Exactly.........Was IT Really "Enough Progress" made or simply your

    September 26, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. Boston

    Another irrelevant news story reported by CNN, who cares what Mike Huckabee thinks on this non-issue. Why is the scheduling of a debate important to anyone. Let's vote for the American in this race.


    September 26, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. Maggie from Virginia

    Frank the Tank,

    What you are witnessing is people waking up. We are mad and will not take this anymore! We are taking back our country. We do not want the Great Deregulator McCain!

    September 26, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. the other jd

    I am not going to be a hypocrite. Huckabee scares me to death.
    That being said, McCain needs the support of the people who supported Huckabee. I am glad that Huckabee just said something to chip away at that support.

    September 26, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. winnie47

    How John McCain handles a crisis : After an hour of debate rehearsal, decides to 'suspend' his campaign and go to Washington to 'fix' the financial crisis. Lets his 'suspended' campaign continue to run ads, send out surrogates to news programs, issue talking points and fund raise. Cancels an appearance on Letterman to 'rush to Washington', yet makes time to stop for an interview with Katie Couric and an appearance at the Clinton Global Initiative. Arrives in Washington, having not even read the proposal being debated. He's not not on a relevant committee, so he want to his senate office and did nothing. At the meeting with the president, asked no questions and had no opinion. When the negotiations fell apart, said that was a good thing. Then, after a photo -op, and leaving things worse than they were before he arrived, decides to attend the debate he blew off three days prior. Way to be presidential , JohnnyMac – NOT!

    September 26, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Bulldog

    So McCain supsended his campaign for ONE DAY.

    He announced that everything is back up and running all of a sudden. Even he knows he screwed up.

    September 26, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. Susan


    September 26, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. Call it what it is.

    I will say it again and again. McCain is mentally unfit to be president.

    Some things just have to be said, so I'm going to say it. Sarah Pailin is dumb! I heard her interview with Couric, and I must say that I was at a loss for words. It is a wonder how this woman is a Governor!

    It is clear that McCain has rolled the dice and is betting on American's stupidity and ignorance. Pailin has no business near Washington D.C. Plain and simple.

    September 26, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Palin has more experience than Obama

    People will see it many ways.

    I see it as deciding what is important.

    September 26, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. Voter in SD

    The McCain haters are in full vitriol. Interesting. What was McCain thinking - how dare he cancel a debate that will change nobody's mind when congress is thinking of putting the American taxpayer into hock for about 1 Trillion $$. Let's see a "debate" (also known as extended stump speech) or economic future? The decision is a no-brainer - and McCain did the right thing.

    Harry Reid was "incensed" that a senator would actually want to do his job. Right now our Congress and Senate is led by Reid and Pelosi. What a pathetic pair of "leaders" - neither of whom I had a chance to elect.

    September 26, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. Frank Robertson, Amherst, NY

    What a joke McSame has become! Eight years ago, I would have been happy to vote for him. Since that time, though, he has become yet another party-line Republican who merely wants to advance his own career at the expense of the country.

    It really won't matter whether he attends the debate or not – he's already lost my vote! Thanks for helping me to make up my mind, McSame!

    Go Obama!!!!

    September 26, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  13. arc, Lugano CH

    Quite possibly, the inner circle of the GOP could be finished with McCain, and are already grooming their next superstar to run in 4 years; whether it's against Senator Obama or even more importantly against McCain.

    Then again, there is no guarantee McCain will be around in 4 years, much less 8; here’s something to think about. President Sarah Palin.

    September 26, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
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