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. Jill

    I think McCain is desperate to finding a way around not to debate Obama..

    September 26, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. ltd1974- Ohio for Obama

    This is why McShame don't want to show up

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

    Obama?Biden '08

    September 26, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. Joseph IRAQ WAR VET




    September 26, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  4. Shay

    I am hoping that McCain will show up for the debate.

    Otherwise he will be considered a

    Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall

    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

    All the King Horses and all the King men could not

    put Humpty Dumpty together again

    It will most likely be considered a great loss for McCain not giving his input on the debate.

    Millions of people will be tuned in for this and that is a fact.

    I am hoping that the station do no cancel.

    Straight Talk, he is not. I will tell the people the Truth. not so

    A lie is a lie and he was caught redhanded. David Letterman ripped him apart. Which is what McCain deserved.

    Maybe Palin can take the place of McCain in the debate, after wall she is only a heartbeat away.

    Now it looks like it is going to be the old and the restless.

    Cmon McCain. You can do this. Don't be skurrd.

    September 26, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. Adam Habib Dallas, TX

    Senator McCain is way too unpredictable. He is a hot-head with unpredcitability. What is his take on this bailout package? No one knows. Yet he wants to drop out from debate. It is a political stunt. It is sad that Republicans could not find a spot for Mit Romney in their ticket. He or Arnold are the only two GOP candidate I could vote for. Thought of Palin Commander-in-chief gives me a chill. It is horrible. They keep talking about Putin. Why Putin? Because of Mccain and palin do not know the name of President of Russian. It is terrible.

    September 26, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. Tony

    I certainly hope that the Obama campaign roast McCain on the SUnday talk shows if he does not show up, as well as the national media and the VOTERS!

    Wake up and see this for what it is people. Mccain and Palin are running scared. There are articles in all of the major papers and on the internet about Palin and the McCain campaign impeding the TrooperGate investigation, Palin rambling on incoherently in interviews and when answering any questions, etc.

    To elect this team would be disastrous for the U.S. and the American people.

    September 26, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. Jack

    John McCain is playing games with my 401K retirement and I don't appreciate it one bit!

    What would this old fool do as President play chicken with nuclear warheads?

    September 26, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. TM

    The non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates and the University of Mississippi have been planning this debate for well over a year – Ole Miss has spent $5-1/2 million on it. While the financial crisis demands the attention of both Senators, they should be able to spare 3 hours or so on Friday night to participate in a debate with an anticipated 65 million voters. If a financial plan is worked out today, I am certain the Senate will delay the vote for a few hours so both candidates can return to DC. That is what jets are for.

    We should also note that Sen. McCain also dropped out of a debate with George W. Bush in March, 2000 – again with only a few days
    notice. What a coincidence.

    September 26, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. Baze

    "How about a Plan C that allows 3rd party candidates speak?"

    I like this plan a lot John!


    September 26, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. Dutch-VA

    One candidate is a multi-tasker(Sen. Obama). The other needs to postpone EVERYTHING, from his campaign, his debate and his running mates debate. Sounds like a McChicken sandwich without the bun.


    September 26, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  11. C W

    No way, no how is McCain a man of principle. He sold those to the devil back in 2006 when he cashed in his integrity and spoke at Jerry Falwell's "Agent of Intolerance" university commencement.

    Suspending his campaign is nothing more than a cynical stunt.

    September 26, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. MBFLA

    McCain, if you do not show up you do not look very presidential, in fact, you look like a WIMP!

    September 26, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  13. America will be free again

    I wonder where some people put their brains when they blog. its either from ignorance or just being stupid. I guess if mccain was in Bush position last week he will suspend his Presidency, shut down all airlines, military, media and every aspect of the country. What was he thinking? I thought he said Sarah was a right pick and cant she stand in for him?
    Even on 9/11 the country didnt shutdown everything continued. Airlines and flights continued only diverted for the moment. People should really see that only an idiot will send everybody else into panic attack cos of a meltdown that is a week old.

    September 26, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  14. Kelby from Houston, TX

    If McCain does not show up, my candidate will have at least an hour of unfettered face time with America. He can dispell rumors pertaining to his policy. Inform the public of his intentions once he gets in office and generally improve his standings around the country. This does not bode well for McCain. He needs to get his act together and get down to the debate....OR QUIT!
    Either way, Obama is going to win this election.

    CNN please post this comment

    September 26, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  15. Mike

    Wow… People are calling into question McCain's actions for suspending his campaign and possibly missing a typical party line debate...

    Are any of you going to learn anything new from this debate that you all ready don't know???

    Lets see the thing McCain wants most is to become president… Instead of proceeding with his campaign and debating Obama over things we have all heard for months now… He decided to put his most important personal accomplishment on hold… so he could meet with the people who are deciding on the biggest proposed financial bail out plan to save our country's failing economy.

    I guess atleast 47% of you do not know what leadership is about or what Country First means!!!

    September 26, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. jim


    September 26, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  17. Sean

    Yeah, McCain... the entire fate of the economy hinges on those TWO HOURS! What a hero... NOT! Funny how he didn't "suspend" his campaign when the $700 Billion bailout proposal was announced, but "suspended" it when Obama gained a 9-point lead in the polls. And when did Katie Couric get elected to congress? What a hero!

    September 26, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. The View from here

    THIS IS TO NOAH........

    Mr McCain is no man of principle he is a man of DRAMA. His whole life has been about drama. He always had to be in the spotlight, the maverick, the little show off guy who had a bad temper. Always about the drama... His campaign is all about the DRAMA of John McCain... To be noticed.. He has the short mans syndrome, he MUST be the star of the show..... He doesn't give a rip about any one but his drama.. He doesn't care about this country, just the drama of it all.. Bottom line..... He's a drama Queen..... NOT A PRESIDENT...

    September 26, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. jaye

    George Bush and the republican party have nearly destroyed our country.
    Look at the Clinton and Regan years as opposed to the Bush years.
    And now people are supporting McCain and Palin!???!!!
    WOE to our nation.

    September 26, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. ohio

    McCain was not needed in Washington this was pure grandstanding,,
    All that ws needed for him to do is go and vote.. he was not to negotiate this deal if it was why wasn't he there earlier. as of tuesday he had not read the bill, had not negotaited on the bill,was not on either of hte committes to write the bills so why did he think he had to grab his Navy pilot license and put all hands on deck to get his party to vote the way of the President.
    And to All of this republicans that are on here defending this actions Sorry but you cant forget although you want to that McCain is not the head of your party.. BUSH IS,,,, And Paulson was a BUsh Pick
    Bush is the head of your PArty Sorry!!!!!

    September 26, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. Herb Toy

    I can see the scenario, like a grade-b movie, McCain's presence at the debate is up in the air. McCain takes the House Republicans to the wood shed today and late this afternoon there will be an announcement that the House Republicans have resolved their issues regarding the Federal bailout thanks to McCain's leadership. McCain shows up at the debate at the last minute smiling and waving the V for victory sign with his hands. The reporters at the debate gush when he walks in. Loud applause. McCain in the best B-Western movie manner says, " Shucks. It weren't nothin".

    September 26, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  22. Karen

    McCain has nothing to contribute to the economic crisis and he has nothing to contribute to the debate. Senator Dodd and his colleagues were working for hours and days to come up with an acceptable proposal for this rescue plan. Mighty Mouse flew in to Washington and threw a wrench in the works. I will watch the debate, along with millions of Americans. I will vote for Senator Obama on November 4th. Nothing John McCain says or does is relevant.

    September 26, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  23. Accountant Guy

    This is so PATHETIC!! This should show America that Obama is the only choice for President!! He is able to handle the crisis and debate and communicate with Americans at the same time. That is what I want in a President, not someone who runs and hide. Just pack your bags McBush and take Eskimo Barbie with you!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 26, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |

    John McCain will show up and explain why we must be afraid of bad people like Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, Hitler... uh, er, what do you mean their dead? Never mind...

    September 26, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  25. Heaven help us

    What's that old saying, If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen
    McDoogle is a sham with no principals....political ploy equals political suicide.......This isn't the first time McCain has bailed on a Presidential debate, he did this in 2000...............poll numbers slip sliding away for McCain

    September 26, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
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