September 26th, 2008
09:30 AM ET
14 years ago

Plan B proposed for Mississippi debate

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Workers put the finishing touches on the debate stage at the University of Mississippi on Thursday."]
OXFORD, Mississippi (CNN) - University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat said Friday morning that if GOP nominee McCain does not show for the first presidential debate at the school in Oxford, the format may include members of the audience to submit questions to the moderator, Jim Lehrer.

Lehrer would then pose the questions to Obama. It would take on a kind of town hall format, according to Khayat.

Watch: Will the debate go on?

Khayat said he will recommend that to the Debate Commission, which would make the final decision.

The debate was to focus on foreign policy and national security, but the economic crisis is likely to be a dominant issue as well.

Whether McCain intends to participate is up in the air, but Democratic opponent Barack Obama said it's still on as far as he's concerned.

Obama will fly to Oxford on Friday, according to his campaign.

Watch: What if McCain skips the debate?

On Thursday, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said he expects both candidates to attend Friday night's debate, even though McCain has said he'll only go if Congress reaches a deal on the bailout.

Full story

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (255 Responses)
  1. Noah

    Senator McCain asked Obama to join him for 10 town hall debates and Obama refused. McCain is a man of principle and he knows that as a Senator he isneeded in Washington. Obama cares far too much about his own ambitions than to try and help the American people when they really need it.

    September 26, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. Jarrett

    Come on McCain, what are you afraid of? Congress doesn't need you now.

    September 26, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. Betty

    On with the debate!!!

    September 26, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. America will be free again

    Great Presidential attributes

    September 26, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. Mccain is a liar

    Sweet I could care less about Mccain anyway, I cannot wait to see Obama answer the questions and I hope when they hear his idea's and realize what a smart man he is, the word will spread in the strong republican state's!

    September 26, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. Jeff

    Oh goody, another chance for Obama to pontificate his "vision" for America. as a lifeling Democrat I find it very difficult to listen to this guy prattle on. I would be happier if his record could substantiate his rhetoric.

    September 26, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. Ellen in Ohio

    I think the FCC will have a big problem with this! If this does go off as a "town hall" meeting, I'm not sure it can be televised because it could be seen as a political advertisement. I'm pretty sure debates are categorized differently than news programs.

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong...

    September 26, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. Kel

    Why is it that McCain can back out and it's OK? This is nuts.

    September 26, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  9. McCain is right

    The debate pales in magnitude of importance to the economic meltdown.

    BOTH senators should be doing THEIR CURRENT JOB- rather than campaigning as usual.

    September 26, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. Female Voter

    McCain is as wrong as "two left shoes" on this one, if he doesn't show. The people of Miss. spent money to see him and Obama debate, so show up!

    September 26, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Cooper

    This is insane. No one even talks about the fact that the University of Mississippi has spent 1 1/2 years and over a million dollar to set up this debate. I guess McCain wants Americans to pick up the tab if he no-shows!! Money doesn't grow on trees John McCain...well maybe in your world, but not ours.

    September 26, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  12. blake

    All they need to do is put a cardboard cut out version of John McCain behind the podium and everytime a question is posed to McCain a cricket noise play...and then Obama says, "Jim if you don't mind, I will feild this question..."

    Thats it. McCain would have a better chance of "winning" this debate then if he was actually present.

    September 26, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  13. S for Obama

    That is more like it. We are fully ready to listen to your Senator Obama....or next president who is capable of handling multiple tasks at the same time. We don't want a president who drops one thing and go on with another thing.

    Obama/Biden - 08/12

    September 26, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  14. Barney

    I just heard this morning that some churches in several are rebelling and will now preach politics from the pulpit.

    I think this should cause them to lose their tax exempt status. See? Maybe all the hypocrits can contribute to the deficit we have.

    I sure hope so.

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 26, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. arc, Lugano CH

    You simply cannot trust McCain. He is a proven liar and an out-of-touch elderly fool. He doesn’t care about helping the American people. How was McCain going to single-handedly save the economy by returning to Washington once the bailout meetings were well underway and when his presence there was merely for a political one-up tactic?

    More gamesmanship and dirty cheating tricks from McCain & strong-willed-lower-lip Palin on the way!

    Watch them (McCain and the GOP) try to shield Palin from her VP debate if it’s supposed to last more than 23 seconds!

    September 26, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. Bob Indianapolis IN

    Sweet! Let the coward hold up with Boehner and the rest of their ilk, who are trying to destroy the American economy before they are slaughtered like fatted calves on election day!

    September 26, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  17. Independent

    2000 GOP Primary – McCain Backed Out of Debate
    " John McCain has pulled out of a long-scheduled debate with Texas Gov. George Bush, set for Thursday in Los Angeles... Top campaign officials attributed McCain's decision to Bush's earlier reluctance to appear at the debate." Mavricky!

    September 26, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  18. bill

    These Republicans are making me sick,the Democrats wants to bring this country together,but the Republicans wants to play politics.Mccain is a idiot,so is Palin,but if the Republicans dont get their way their willing to bring down the whole economy,LIKE DOGS IF THEY CANT EAT SOMETHING THEY BURY IT.

    September 26, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. Barney

    Maybe they can contribute to help REDUCE the deficit.

    September 26, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  20. Tired of the Lies

    It shouldn't surprise anyone that McCain would want to dodge Obama. The only problem is, McCain's efforts to do so only make him look weak, and if Obama shows and McCain doesn't, it will put a spotlight on McCain's unpreparedness.

    This whole "suspend the campaign to address the economic crisis" is crap. Neither McCain nor Obama sit on any congressional committee that has anything to do with this issue. Let the appropriate committees do their job without interference, and get on with your campaigning, including the debates.

    September 26, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. Big D

    If McCain isn't going to be there, then his VP nominee should go in his place. Isn't that what a VP is for – to step in for the President when there's a crisis? If McCain is so gosh-darn valuable to finding a solution to economic crisis, then his VP should be called up. As a Plan B to this, then the entire VP debate should be switched and held tonight, and the first Presidential debate next week.
    Remember that early voting and absentee voting has already begun. People deserve to hear their candidates speak in the debates.
    Hold the debates as scheduled – substitute the VPs if necessary!

    September 26, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. McLIAR

    Town Hall Debate – Priceless!

    September 26, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  23. OceanBlue, Minnesota

    And what good, pray, does McCain's absence of 90 minutes from the debate do to the economy? What can he achieve in those 90 minutes for economy that he wasn't able to achieve in the last 8 years?

    September 26, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. USSA - The United Socialist States Of America

    Will McDeregulator show up?

    He looks sicker everyday.

    Have any of you guys noticed this too?

    September 26, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  25. Barney

    McCain pulling these childish stunts just gets him more attention. He's as obvious as a spoiled little brat. And behaves like one.

    No WAY !!!!!!

    September 26, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
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