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. Kpawlak

    Harry Reid is a liar. They all know what really happened in that meeting Thursday. McCain was the one that was quiet while all the others ran their mouths after Obama spoke — ill advised of course and lost control of the meeting when the Dems deferred it to Obama.

    Of course mainstream won't report this. Keep lapping it up.
    Might as well not watch the debate. Obama has already won.
    Mainstream won't recognize McCain if he wins. It will be spun.

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Mark

    You know. This Huckabee guy is spot on. Huck would have been a better presidential candidate. Sure, he's a bit, perhaps too religious but he doesn't shove it down your throat, and he doesn't pander.

    Too bad, I'm moving to the Obama camp now. It's not about party, it's about leading with conviction and intelligence.

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Shirley-Ohio

    No only did he make a huge mistake, but I think he may no longer have a chance in this election. This was a big circus of Republican clowns on Capitol Hill excluding the Democrats there to watch the acts. I will be finished with the American people if they by into this act which they have done for the past 8 years which is why we are in this mess to start with. The people who voted for Bush should pay the 700 billion bailout money and the people who vote for McCain should pay for whatever other trouble that we are headed in under the Republican party. Obama is right as you can see, we need a change in Washington and we need it on Nov. 4. Don't get it twisted American people or you will find that the poor will be poorer and the rich will be headed to the poor house. Get right this time American people.

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  4. Rob

    McCain is really a sleaze ball , no wonder he picked Palin.Birds of a feather .Did anybody really care if he showed up or not ? He's afraid he'll lose another change to be in front of a camera .
    Is his insanity the Rove October surprise ....Surprise I'm Nuts !

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. A.D. Vasquez (in Pasadena)

    If the goings-on in D.C. required that McCain be there immediately (which he was NOT) and suspend his campaign (which he did NOT) to have him help resolve the crisis (which he has NOT) and skip the debate (which he will NOT), then why all the grandstanding to begin with?...

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. Maggie from Virginia

    McCain fired his first campaign manager, he need to fire this new one as well.

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. enough is enough... proud 55 yr. old female hispanic Obama supporter from Dallas, TX

    Meron, you're right Huckabee would have been a better running mate. Even Romney would have been better than that "gal". McCain is a liar!

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  8. M in Manhattan

    The myth of the "maverick" is dead.

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. TAYO, NY

    All Americans know where McCain stands on the bailout bill!


    This time around, it will not workout for him. He like to say he is the Maverick and the person that gets things done...but that statement is in the air now because we now know he only drew back the clock by his present yesterday.


    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. Peggy

    I don't understand Americans. If McCain felt that his country is in danger, he can react that way. I am not an American and I don't live in the States, I don't know why Americans have changed like this, They hate one another, they envy one another, they can't stand one another. I feel that the USA right now is a mad house. Even if your economy goes back to normal, DO YOU SERIOUSLY BELIEVE THAT NATURE IS GOING TO LET US GET AWAY? DON'T YOU SEE FLOODINGS EVERYWHERE AT THE SAME TIME, HURRICANES MORE AND MORE VIOLENT, EARTHQUAKES.

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. Tired of the Lies

    McCain's calculation: If I go to Washington and the next day a bill is presentedthat will save the economy (which is what everyone said was going to happen) it will look like it was my doing. That would help my campaign more than a debate.

    Pity it didn't work out that way, John. You're not a maverick, you're a gambler. With the shape our nation is in, we can't afford a gambler in the white house.

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. FreeMind26

    McCain is not a maverick; he's old.

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. Niko

    I totally disagree with Huckabee, McCain is a senator and so is Obama, they should both be in Washington working on this problem and not working on their next job. McCain was right to suspend his campaign and get back to work- they are both still being paid and should continue to work. I don't want a president who is not focusing on the here and now because they are too busy trying to get that lucrative book deal or consulting job after they leave the White House.

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. jm for sc

    Tony, Huckebee and all the other republican saw the light a long time ago. They are only sticking together for a common cause and that is get another republican elected no matter what the character of that person is. McCain is the worst candidate for this country I have ever heard of. It was never a doubt in my mind that he would be at that debate on tonight. He just wanted to steal the headlines the same as he done when he announced the empty head Palin after the DNC Convention in order to stop some people from focusing on Obama's speech. That has completely backfired whether the republicans want to admit it or not.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. sue

    I know die-hard republicans don't like it – but McCain did make a mistake on this one. You cannot put the world on hold when you are president. His stance of "no debate until a bailout plan is in place" was just stupid.

    What will he do if he is president and there is a terrorist attack in our country or on one of our allies while at the same time Russia has another invasion while at the same time our economy takes another nose dive? Is he going to say "hold on a minute, I can only handle one thing at a time. I need a time out. Put two of these items on hold."?

    It does not work that way and everyone seems to know it does not work that way except for McCain.

    Some people have been saying that the debates are not as important as the financial mess. However, I see this differently. If he cannot handle a simple debate while trying to help out on the financial mess, I do not see how in the world he is going to handle multiple problems and issues at the same time lke the president must deal with on a routine basis.

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Rick

    I believe that a true leader puts personal politics and motives aside to support those who will make him president and that exactly what McCain did, not like Obama who wants to be infront of the media all the time........

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. McCain/Palin The Copy-Cats/lairs

    John McCain wasn't fit the last two time he ran for president and is not fit this third time.

    September 26, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. Kyle

    Even Chuck Norris would be a better pick for the VP spot. Go Obama, no drama.

    September 26, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  19. Dee

    I totally agree... I've always though Huckabee was a stand up guy!!!!

    September 26, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. David Goldman for OBAMA









    September 26, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. guy

    I'm looking at age, unbalanced behavior, daily changes in "positions" regarding issues, hot temper, lack of knowledge of major issues, having been a staunch supporter of deregulation for as long as anyone can remember ("Deregulation" sure sounds a lot more sexy than the resulting abuse of our accounting, insurance, energy, and investment sectors, not to mention the devastating effect on families all over the country, doesn't it?), and one question major question comes to mind: Can we realistically dare imagine what McCain might do under REAL pressure, as in having the final say on such matters during what would appear to be an already critical stage of the 21st Century?

    He does not have to BE just like Bush in order to inflict as much damage on us and the world.He's doing just fine as himself.
    How can anyone not be, at least, concerned???
    Warning signs are, pretty much, anywhere one looks.

    September 26, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. tony burgess

    Willy Brown – Your remark is one of the stupidest I have heard this entire election cycle. 200,000 people to hear Obama speak in Germany plus another 85,000 to hear him speak in Denver during his moninaton acceptance speech and he is afraid of real people? In additon to that he does not hand pick who can attend his events. Support Mcain you two deserve each other but Obama will win this thing.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 26, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. sm

    So......... If the Debate was cancelled ............


    Some people have big EGO.
    Some people have big EGGS.

    September 26, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  24. wrob from GA

    I agree with you, Huck. Truly amazed at McCain. What was he thinking? McCain does not have the temperment and juddgement to be President. In fact, it is scary that he is this close to being an option when after all of his graffs/mistakes that half of America is "stuck on stupid". We're in this together – how about listening to reason and making the best of this terrible situation. Give Obama a chance!

    September 26, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. Montanan fed-up with Republicans

    I think this only proves that the "suspension" of McCain's campaign was just for show. A deal still hasn't been hammered out, and yet he's going to show up to the debate?! Wait a minute, I thought it was imperative to get this thing done! Come on, McCain was going to show up, no matter what happened; he would have looked like an idiot had he NOT attended. This campaign is a house of cards, built on nothing but lies and bluster. I hope Americans can see through this mess!

    September 26, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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