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. MikeH

    Watch you Republican losers as 'Cut and Run' Johnnie McCain'spresidential campaign come crashing down into a pile of rubble tonight if he doesn't show up.

    September 26, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  2. Stacy from Loudoun County, VA

    John McCain is disrespecting Democracy. In the past 24 hours he has wrecked the meetings in Washington, threatened to not show up at the debates, broken previous commitments, “stopped” his campaign (ha ha!) and is political grandstanding instead of engaging in spirited debate.

    If he fails to show up to tonight’s debate, the American people should treat this as a slap in our collective faces because this reveals him to be a man who panics in the face of adversity, cowers when the chips are down, and hides when he is counted on. Is this the man you want to represent the United States?

    September 26, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  3. bob

    If Senator McCain is needed in Washington, then he should send is second in comment Gov. Sarah Palin

    September 26, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. donmcybertect

    Go ahead, John, bail. Or better yet, let Governor Palin sit in. Isn't that what the VP is there for? Give me a break. Barney Frank said that McCain's presence is no benefit to the economic debate going on. The American people need to see how their candidates would respond is a crisis. Here it is, let's see your stuff McCain.

    September 26, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. Mike

    Worried about a debate??? When the financial sector of the US is about to come tumbling down... Last I checked both of the presidential candidates were elected to do a job in Congress... I think it is very important that both of them are there to vote... then make public how they voted!!!

    After reading some of the blogs... it is amazing how quickly all of you want to jump on a "quick fix" and blame McCain... It seems most Americans especially the younger generation seem to forget that they need to "look before they leap!!!"

    I would prefer that the lawyers analyze the proposed bail out line by line to make sure this does not turn into another Great Depression...

    In my little experience the quick and fast solution usually ends up turning into a big and long disaster!!!

    September 26, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. Independent-Latina-for-OBAMA




    September 26, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. Felines for Freedom

    Like Obama said, the President needs to be able to multi-task. Surely the Senate can spare Obama and McCain for an evening. Besides, seeing that the election is not being postponed, the show must go on.

    September 26, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. Lyle

    Candidate debates are regulated by federal and state election laws. By law a debate must include at least two candidates. By claiming a one-candidate debate has a “town hall format”; it would not change the law and would still give unfair advantage to one candidate. If Mr. McCain is not able to appear, the debate will be postponed.

    September 26, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. Beverly, NYC

    I am over this election, I know who I'm voting for and mothing in the next 39 days will change my mind. John McCain and Sarah Palin simply do not have the JUDGEMENT, TEMPERAMENT or INTELLECT to be president and vice president of this country. Been there done that type of brainless presidency for the last eight years. ENOUGH!!!

    September 26, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. Mouse Alexander

    John McCain is a MAVERICK! He's a WAR HERO and a former POW! He crashed FIVE PLANES!

    Surely, he's not afraid of a debate with some light-weight arrogant empty suit that can't think without a teleprompter!

    He what? He's not coming? Oh...


    September 26, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  11. Never obama

    Obama is more interested in the job he's trying to get than the one he has.
    Also, he running scared because after attending debate schoole he's so afraid he'll forget the answers if the debate is dalayed.

    America, this is the same empty suite he was when he was debating Hillary...................the same liar. Please don't reward this man for being unfit.
    Chris Dobbs and Barney Franks should be arrested for treason.

    September 26, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  12. Nurse Ratchet

    John McCain better show up else everyone will think he's a coward.

    September 26, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |

    Senator McCain is really showing how unprepared he really is and how he is NOT READY TO BE PRESIDENT OF THESE UNITED STATES. Senator Palin, WOW, she is really stupid. They both are REDNECKS AND LIERS TO A FAULT! Some how I figured that this was true and when they told and are telling so many lies on national television it is shameful. I am so ashamed of my white people I just don't know what to do. they are the Bush clones and it is evident. I was going to vote for McCain/Palin, but now they can hang it up

    Newlife in New York

    September 26, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  14. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    If the Democrats control the House and the Senate why not vote.

    Obama is wanting to give away our money

    September 26, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  15. Ricky - Latino for Obama

    I love it! A 90 minute townhall meeting on National Television! that'll really irk the McCain campaign.

    Hey the show must go on even if John McChicken decides to not attend.

    Obama/Biden '08! Presidential...

    September 26, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  16. meme

    John McChicken needs to show up, and stop pulling all these stunt to detour the American people from the fact that he nor Sarah Palin are fit to run this country. He keeps trying to find ways to throw Barack off, but Mr. Obama is so focused, he's now unstoppable. If McChicken didn't show up, then I'm sure Obama can handle the town hall style debate...

    September 26, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  17. Palin for President

    McCain will win this election. No more Obama, no more Clintons. We don't need screaming pumas to win this election.

    Palin 2012

    September 26, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  18. Where's McCain

    John McCain is a little too eager to skip the debate. This might even
    raise suspicions given Mississipi's history. The secret service may
    even want to beef up security. Something smells fishy. If John
    refuses to show up, just turn it into a town hall meeting.

    Democrats 08.

    September 26, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  19. Dutch-VA

    If McCain doesn't show, I'm really going to call im McChicken for now on. What is he so afraid of? It's just a presidential debate.


    September 26, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. Cathy

    By all his grandstanding and threats to avoid the debate and attempts to look like the hero of the financial debacle and "suspending" his campaign–McCain has managed to get himself TONS more free advertising than he could ever have achieved otherwise. Very shrewd move on his part. Sad that he has to stoop so low to get it, though.

    September 26, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  21. sue

    The debate should go on. I hope McCain shows up. But if he doesn't then I guess Obama can do it however the Debate Commission decides to run it.

    And yes the VP debate should go on next week as planned as well. Enough of the McCain campaign trying to shield Palin. If she is ready to be VP as they say she is, she is ready to debate, speak to the media and all the rest of it. If she cannot do these things then she has no business running for VP.

    September 26, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. Megan

    McCain is doing a grand stand. He is laying the ground work so the Palin debate can be delayed until after the election. As for Bill Clinton, he is busy with Palin. For the very FIRST time, I feel sorry for Hillary having such a pig for a husband.

    September 26, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. The Real Issues

    Senator Obama should be present, however, this will not be a debate without Senator McCain who is stonewalling.....The American people see this and therefore he will lose more votes because of it.

    Senator McCain does not want questions about the Bush Administration economic policies that he has supported 90-95% of the time. Economic policies that are "Voodoo" and trickle down instead of creating jobs for the future and a stable economy that has only been realized by Democrat Wm. Clinton during the last quarter of a century.

    September 26, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. Ian Minneapolis, MN

    I will laugh histerically if McCain doesn't show up.

    September 26, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. bert

    Remind people to get out and register to vote and vote.

    Go Obama!!! 08 and 2012.

    September 26, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
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