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. America for Obama

    No wonder the McCain camp wants to delay indefinetly the VP debates. As it stands now the polls suggest that Palin and Biden are in a virtual dead heat over who would win their debate. This tells us two things, number one that the American people have no real idea just how ignorant Palin is and number two, the McCain campaign is counting on the VP debate being canceled all together because a 50/50 split with Biden is the best possible scenario for them in an actual debate between the two. The McCain camp knows better however and they know that she will get knocked out of the ball park by Biden like a Ryan Howard homerun and they can't afford to let that happen already being behind as it is. If you have seen any of the interview between Palin and Katie Couric then you know what I'm talking about.
    Couric: What do you mean when you say you have foreign policy experience because you can see Russis from your house?
    Palin: "Well like the uhh, the children of Russia don't have maps like because the like, education maps are poor in countries like the Russia and like the Iraq, when Putin rears his head uhh, where do you think his head goes uhh, like right over Alaska because they are like in our state of Alaska and a ya know what I mean, like they uhh take something that you say and like they try to ya know, like uhh, uhhh, ya know".

    September 26, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  2. Elaine

    I think McCain will show up. If the estimated number of people the media is predicting will watch the debate is true, McCain would only be shooting himself in the foot by not appearing.

    The POTUS is in a unique position where he or she will be faced with several tasks at once. If either of them are prepared to lead as they both claim, then keeping and eye on the Economic crisis and doing a presidental debate should not be such a big deal.

    It's the toughest job is the world...let's show the people that you can handle it.

    September 26, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. Democracynow2008

    Its over I never in my voting life have seen a candidate try and put a hold on a Presidential Debate .

    If you McCain want Americans to have even considered you then you should be out their campaigning like you want it bad.

    You and Bush are a total disgrace to our great nation .

    I hope that you never get elected into the Whitehouse never.

    America will come through this major mess where in but not with McCain who is just grandstanding .

    We really need a true leader and one that will not just put on a show everytime their is a crisis domestic or otherwise that person in my book is Senator Obama .

    If your an undecided voter reading this please consider Senator Obama.

    He has shown me he is balanced level headed and thinking before jumping to a conclusion like McCain does.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 26, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  4. John

    McCain is waiting for plan "D" so it match's his graduating grade from the Naval Academy. And this guy has the backing of minds that aren't waiting for autopsy in the morgue.

    September 26, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Sylvia

    McCain is running scared. If he doesn't bother to show America the respect of showing up for tonight's debate, we may be better off anyway. That way, Americans can listen to the intelligence of a real leader and hear how he will improve the condition of our country through real work and dedication - Barack Obama is the man we need to help our nation heal.

    I respect McCain's military service, but getting caught in a failed mission and being a POW does not qualify or verify sound leadership, intelligence and a vision for your country.

    I will be watching the debate tonight, along with millions of other Americans - with our without George Bush, Jr. (aka John McCain)!

    September 26, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. Pam

    I would bet almost anything that at about 4:00 this afternoon the republicans will make a big announcement that there is a deal on this bail out and give McCain all the credit for it. Then McCain will fly to Mississippi and while answering his first question he'll say that he's sorry if he's not as prepared as he should be because he was giving all his attention to the financial crisis. This has all been a set up and anyone who can't see through it shouldn't be allowed to vote.

    September 26, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  7. bibek

    McCain= Coward

    Anything and everything to win an election
    Country First- my foot.

    September 26, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. Pam

    Noah September 26th, 2008 10:13 am ET

    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.

    McCain only wanted those because he knew there would be small audiences and they wouldn't be televised.

    September 26, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. Mitch

    Frankly, either way, I'm thinking Obama is gonna get a huge benefit from this debate. He seems confident and ready for it, while McCain seems lost in the woods and just fouled up the works for the bailout plan. If McCain doesn't show, then Obama gets to use the time to connect once again with the whole country.

    September 26, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. rusell

    this is a crock of .....ya'll klnow what I mean tell me a good reason not to have a debate now since tis crisis has unfolded , Mcain show's no leadership whatsoever , he want's to cancel the debate because he 's not prepared , i'm sick and tired of people making excuses for Mcain ,this man has no leadership qualitties at all , just look at his decision to pick palin thinking it would movewoman to vote for him , if that's not carelessness then i don't know what is , and that's just an example for him not to be a president

    September 26, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. indy

    How can you not make it to a debate when you have your own jet? Spend the day in DC, fly to the debate, and go back's only a 90 minute debate.

    September 26, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. beevee

    Why is McCain copping out of the debate in the pretext of resolving the bailout plan. What is he afraid of . Did he become a chicken maverick? If he becomes the president he should be able to handle different issues simultaneously. It looks like he is prbably exhausted and needed a rest. His age and health are definitely of concern to the voters.

    September 26, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. Sam Benegal

    There is absolutely no reason that McCain can't spend Friday in Washington & then fly to Mississippi for the debate. He has a private jet at his disposal & a debate is usually only about 1 1/2 hours. There is no reason why he can't leave Washington for a few hours to debate. I want to hear what Obama & McCain have to say. Also I believe that McCain & Obama would be a distraction to the negotiations in DC.

    September 26, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  14. nancy

    This is a no brainer. How much longer can McCain supporters deny the inevitable and the obvious. If you still support The republicans after watching Sarah Palin performances, I will be happy to schedule you a lobotomy. Finally, I am confident that the American people are seeing the light. Obama is a smart, fair, kind, and informed candidate. The United States of America will finally, after years of the village idiot in office, have some intelligence in the Oval office.


    September 26, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  15. Rodger

    McCain has always been a drama king! If he doesn't show, he can pack his bags and go back home. The American people will tune in to watch their next President, Barrack Obama.

    September 26, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. tiffany in ohio

    MCSAME havnt done his job since APRIL. OBAMA has done his job up until JULY. MCAME wasnt worried about our crisis until the other day. You know why? BECAUSE THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THIS ECONOMY IS STRONG!!!!! SO why do he need to go help?What is he going to do? He only has to check yay or nay. No deal made no vote so what is he going to do take a nap until a deal is made?

    September 26, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. asilbek abdrakhmanov

    economy should be part of the debate tonight . healthy economy is part of our national security.

    September 26, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. Hillary 2012

    Both has to participate in the debate
    I want one more debate moderated by CNN Wolf Blitzer, Lou Dobbs and Howard Kurtz
    I can count on these three
    If this debate take place that will be fair, balance and trusted
    I request Sen. Mc Cain please participate

    September 26, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. bev

    John McCain is a farce. I hope he doesn't go to Mississippi. I am sick of his antics and gimmicks. I would rather spend my 90 minutes listening to someone of reason with a vision and the intellect and focus to get us there.

    September 26, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. California


    September 26, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |

    McCain is an idiot and a joke. And so is his bimbo vp.

    September 26, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  22. sophia nyc

    If McCain is scard of Obama, how will he face Ahmedinajad?
    Why is it that McCain is going to all his other scheduled actiivities?

    Leadership here and now: Obama/Biden'08

    September 26, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  23. jane,UK

    mccain want to prospone the debate because ... because he is unqualify and not ready to be a president yet...

    September 26, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  24. Dana, NYC

    Great, let's have the clueless McCain get involved in coming out with an economic proposal!!!! Who is he kidding? Nobody wants him there...didn't anyone tell him he is not part of the congressional committee anyway so he might as well do as all a favor and stay away? He better go and put a muzzle on Palin because the more she talks, the more we realize that she does not have much of an IQ ...

    September 26, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  25. N-E-Way

    "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…"

    blake.....You just made me choke on my coffee.....too darn funny!!!

    September 26, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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