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. Anonymous

    Mc Cain and Co are planning to delay things so that Palin does not have to debate Biden. This is very clear. You watch!! They are beginning to see what they have inflicted on the American people? All he thought was ' Who can help me win' not who will be good for America. Country first my A......... I wonder what his next stunt will be. Get rid of Palin (maybe an accident) and Romney will be VP. Mc Cain does not seem to have any morals. And I use to like him!

    September 26, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. Was republican..this election for democrats

    Mccain you coward,,,you have let all republican down, Shame on you for running away from debate. Country first my a.......i will be so happy to see you and that STUPID PALIN loose this november.

    September 26, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. Auggie Paul

    The Mississippi debate won't go on, because the two presidential hopefuls should be in Washington working on the Bailout. And as far as Obana is concerned, if he gets the presidential nomoniation, it will be the fall of America as we know it. Don't believe me, read his book , then you'll understand what Obama is all about, and you won't be voting Democratic.

    September 26, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. Robert

    How come Obama isn't in Washington DC working to find a reasonable solution to the economic crisis the United States is now in? That is his current job and he is NOT doing it! If this is how he intends to 'lead', by letting others fix the problems,I am not interested in a MIA President.

    Obama should get his priorities straight and quit the political posturing – only for some votes, only to win – while the US economy goes down the drain! Fortunately or unfortunately, in this case – McCain is clearly the leader with his priorities correct. Obama is just Obama – only out for himself!

    September 26, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. Char Jax in Ohio for OBAMA

    What is McCain afraid of!!
    Maybe because he can't jump a bomb on another country.

    September 26, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. Brandon from Texas

    Sounds like a plan im on board!

    OBAMA 08'

    September 26, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  7. Paul from NYC

    It'll be political suicide if McCain bails on this debate.

    September 26, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  8. Amy in Woodstock, NY

    How can it not be a stunt by McCain when all he did was sit looking lost? He even lied to Letterman. McCain just can't be trusted. He is acting like he is the economic czar that is needed when he doesn't have an economic clue. Other than all his bills are paid and he owns multiple homes and cars. McCain is more than financially secure. Most Americans are not.

    So McCain needs to own up to this debate and show up. If not, he has lost this. If candidates can debate during the Iran hostage crisis and worse, McCain can too. Unless it is true that McCain is confused, can't multi-task and is just not qualified to represent the people of America and be President. Obama has shown he can lead.

    September 26, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. JD in NC

    This really is obnoxious.

    September 26, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. Ron from Baltimore

    Debate planners need to get ready. Ask McCain for a yes or no, give him until noon or so to respond, and then, Obama willing, change the format and disinvite McCain.

    McCain would be giving up his opportunity to discuss "his" topic, foreign affairs. And the current economic situation. AND Palin.

    Let's just decide now that he is disinvited, and give the extra time to Biden-Palen next week. How about it, Debate Commission?

    September 26, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. Anonymous

    If presidential candidate McCain cannot attend the debate his VP candidate Palin should take his place.

    September 26, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. check and checkmate

    I would expect Obama tobe at the debate, yesterday was the first time in a longtime he was actually in washington doing his elected job. He does not give me confidence that infact he will be able to do any of the programs he has preposed inlight of the new bailout package. Therefore, why would I vote for him? Obama, now appears tobe just another flashy self promoting politican. I think for the next 4yrs I'll learn to hold my breath with McCain/Palin, and keep the Dems in the majority in Congress.

    2012 😉

    September 26, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. katiec

    Believe Mccains tricks, pandering and lies have caught up
    with him. The man has no creditibility, no integrity.
    He thought he would ride in like a knight on a white
    horse but all he has managed to do is cause more
    problems at a very crucial time for America.
    Country first, yea, right Mccain.
    This man is not capable or honorable enough to
    lead our country.

    September 26, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. CM

    While McCain tries to look busy on Capitol Hill, Obama is going through the American presidential process.

    Please enlighten us GOP zealots on what aspects of McCain's campaign are 'suspended'. It seems all campaign offices are operating normally, his surrogates have been giving talking points and are making the day show circuits and he is still playing politics but trying to tell us otherwise.

    September 26, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. BJGT

    Grandpa McCain is tired and confused.

    The REAL reason he can't make the debates is that he can't stay up past 9:00 pm. All of the excitement of the past week has just tuckered him out.

    September 26, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. TT

    I think we're beginning to see how a "Maverick" leads: in fits and starts,
    high risk/ high reward. The pay-off for McCain's leadership style
    (picking Palin, ducking debate) is it gets media attention. The costs are a continual disruption of the process of orderly reflection and choice-making that leads to good governance.

    McCain looks like an excellent choice as CEO of a small, agile corporation and a LOUSY choice as chief executive for a nation of 300+

    September 26, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  17. demwit

    I tried to call... Is Obama still waiting by the phone?

    September 26, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  18. joseph

    W. "we gonna get this baiout wheather you slaves want it or not, cuz we shouldnt have to pay for our bad decisions."

    Please everyone dont vote for any of these clowns, vote somebody new in, and stay on them so we can avoid this mess again.

    September 26, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  19. Danielle, TX

    McCain is an idiot. He's only trying to keep people guessing just to keep himself in the news. These people are shameless.

    September 26, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  20. Marc O

    "When the going gets tough...the tough suspend their campaign"
    Step-up and talk about the issues McCain.
    Oh, that's right, you have no idea what to say!

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 26, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  21. Virginia

    Will someone please ask Obama to put his Ego in his pocket until
    our national financial crisis has been settled?
    This moment in history is not about TALK, it's about dealing with
    a national crisis.
    Once these troubled waters are calm, then we would all enjoy a healthy presidential debate.
    But, not at this moment!


    September 26, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  22. elm

    Run, run, hide, hide, distract here... Look Haley's Comet over there....

    McCain and Palin are running from the American Public and they both are a farce.

    Do you really want the disoriented McCain as President? Years in a POW camp is bound to leave a few screws loose. Remember the movie Manchurian Candidate. Has he published any medical or psychological records?

    Know-nothing Palin isn't much better. Her last interview was a joke! Did you see where she was exorcised by her minister (witchdoctor)!

    America wake up.

    September 26, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. fool me twice...

    If McCain skips the debate then his campaign needs to reimburse the University and the city/state for all money spent on preparring for the event.

    September 26, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  24. KJ, GA

    This is so much political game-playing on McCain's part. He needs to keep to debate despite economic crisis, in fact, because of ecomonic crisis! Voters need to know where candidates stand, how they deal with crisis and how they handle themselves in debate. There are still quite a few undecided/ indepedent voters out there!

    Obama is demonstrating true leadership and diplomacy, I question McCain's motives....

    September 26, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  25. proud army and navy mom

    mcsenile knows he'd better show up for this debate.

    After all, foreign policy is supposed to be his strong suit (yeah right). Did you know that he was a POW.

    September 26, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
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