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. Mike Kaplan

    Barack is right- a President needs to be able to talk and chew gum at the same time, and there is no reason whatsoever for a guy like McCain, who is not a leader on economic matters, to stop campaigning to go to Washington. Fixing this problem does not require the presence of John McCain.

    If McCain doesn't show, this should be seen for what it is: cowardice, and pure politics.

    September 26, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  2. Anonymous

    The president job is to be ABLE TO DO MANY THINGS AT THE SAME TIME.

    John Mccain is really disapointing me.

    a debate was planned long time ago, the american people has been waiting for it because they need to make up their mind about who to vote for.

    Should a major financial crises occur, you must adress it, and still attend the debate.

    This move on McCain's part shows that :

    – he is not able to deal with many situations at the same time
    – He does not respect his promisses
    – he has no respect for the american people
    – he tried to escape when he is under pressure.

    im am totally desappointed.

    September 26, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  3. CommonSense

    Please show some courage to handle things in parallel. You need to buy more time for preparation before debate as expected from you. As a candidate, you need to show capacity to handle multiple problem without loosing ground.

    September 26, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  4. Real Real Change

    That Obama's going to be there playing politics while Country-First John is back in Washington doing the job he get paid for. I aint scared at all about ths finacial crisis. Country-First John 'll save America from them Democrats. You wait and watch he will. He's a good 'en that Country-First.

    September 26, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. Dan

    If mcsame want to avoid the debate ... why he should be running for the white house... he want to change his policy from war to economy ??? he should learn about the real change from obama..

    obama 08'

    September 26, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. MK

    If McCain skips the debate he will look like a fool.

    September 26, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. Ben

    McCain is playing us, again. He will show up for the debate, in a supposedly surprising way.

    If there is one area that he has something to say, that would be in this debate. He cannot afford to skip it over some lame political gimmick.

    Barack! Be ready that McCain is coming with a lot of rage and political gesturing, get under his skin and show his true color.

    Obama/Biden 2008/2012

    September 26, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  8. Lisa Terriquez

    What are the chaces that the republicans are waiting for Obaba to leave Washington for Mississippi before they agree to a bailout ? It would make McCain look like he saved the day.

    September 26, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  9. jim

    Both senators are on the payroll to serve the nation. I expect them to demonstrate leadership by working on this crisis until it is resolved. They should reschedule the debate if necessary. Solving our nation's financial crisis trumps any debate on concepts.

    September 26, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  10. jaye

    I would much rather hear Senator Obama answer questions for 2 hours than listen to John McCain at all.
    McCain is showing the public just how incompetent he is – first with his vice presidential pick and now with the economic situation.
    McCain is completely out of touch. ALSO, his plan to ride into Washington on a white horse and "rescue" the bailout backfired!
    He and Bush have worked behind the scenes together since his campaign began; oil drilling, Iraq, Russia, Iran, and now the economy have all been behind the scene ploys to get McCain elected.
    Do your homework, watch the Bush press conferences followed by the McCain press conferences, and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. 2 peas in a pod, conspiring to colapse the United States.

    September 26, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  11. Brian

    I'm all for the open forum concept for Obama if McCain is a no-show. The less air time McCain/Palin gets the better as far as I'm concerned.

    September 26, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |

    CNN..............When will we hear more "COMEDY" from Sarah Palin.
    I want to be sure to set my TIVO. This stuff is FUNNIER than Saturday Night Live.

    September 26, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  13. Country CLUB First

    Has anyone heard the Plan B proposals from the GOP on bailouts? These Republicans actually want MORE deregulation and capital gains tax cuts to benefit none other than.......WALL STREET!
    Give me a break!
    Debate on!

    September 26, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. Latrisha Holdsworth

    McCain is only doing this as a political move. It has backfired on him here in small town America, I can tell you that. There seems to be a consensus that this move was political only and did not help anything with the bailout. How can he be there to show leadership when he will not even say what his position on the issue is? I honestly do not get how anyone could say with a strait face that he his being there shows leadership. He is simply running scared. Putting off the debate and suspended the campaign helps him because the further into the issues we go, he knows he will be on the losing side. This is NOT leadership John McCain.

    September 26, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. Wasting Away Again In Moderationville

    McCain is going to show. Right after he and the Republican hold outs come dashing in with an agreement. Then he'll spend his time during the debate telling what a Maverick he is and how he alone was able to seal the deal.

    Anybody who buys into this stunt is just plain crazy.

    I hope Obama kicks his behind all the way back to Arizona.

    September 26, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. NickNas

    If McCain does not show it will be the single most humiliateing moment for ANY Candidate in the HISTORY of US Politics.

    If Obama is the only candidate who is willing to get under the hot lights and answer to the PEOPLE then McCain should just Concede now.

    Do the REALLY think they can hide from the people and press all the way to the Whitehouse??

    September 26, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  17. canuck

    if bush did what mccain was doing the libs would complain that he was not in washington taking care of the bailout. all it means is that libs will say whatever is politically expedient.

    September 26, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  18. Rob Johnson

    Genius! McCain has always been a big fan of the town hall format, so there is no way he can possibly object to this plan.

    McCain is no financial expert by his own admission, so the idea that he is going to ride in on a white horse and save the economy is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in politics, and that is saying something.

    McCain needs to show up for tonight's debate and look like the frightened, confused old man he is while Obama looks calm, cool and Presidential. Then we can go ahead and put this election away and we can all get on with our lives.

    September 26, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. Hillary Independent finally for Obama

    I think John McCain deliberately caused the Republicans to put a cog in the wheel yesterday to keep the economic fix from happening.

    Now if he is successful with his "new ideas" this morning, McCain can claim he has saved the Union.

    I think Karl "Rasputin" Rove is behind sounds like a Rove move.

    September 26, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. maddie

    One can only guess McCain's motives here. Couldn't Sara Palin step up tp bat and take over for her running mate? As a possible future Vice President that should indeed be her role.

    September 26, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Read between the lines. McCain is just pulling a stunt. His entire campaign has been shady, so why should I believe he is suddenly sincere? McCain is full of hidden agendas. Are you sure he's not my mother-in-law in disguise?

    September 26, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. Candy West Virginia

    You mean Obama is not afraid to multitask? No way................where is mchero,mcderegulator,mccoward,mcgamble,mcliar????

    September 26, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. Andy

    The only reason to have McCain at the debate is to see the angry, old white that it itching to come out. A townhall-style meeting with Obama would be a great opportunity to hear some policy detail.

    September 26, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. bert

    It's okay McCain, just take a deep breath and come from behind that skirt and just start talking.... you've done it before, remember when you had to tell your crippled ex wife you were leaving her for Cindy Moneybags! McCain is a creep and I am glad to find out all of this before hand. Let's make the right choice and put Barack Obama in office and get this country going in the right directiion. Vote for Obama 08 and 2012.

    September 26, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  25. Jim Smiley

    Imagine! A town hall meeting and John McCain won't be there.
    This whole episode, right down to the sneak attack by House Republicans, smells of a political ploy to let McCain escape a debate - and more, to somehow sneak Palin through without debating Biden.

    September 26, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
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