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. Informed Voter

    Send in Pale-In to debate Oabma

    Mc Cain is gonna come .. he is just looking for media attention

    September 26, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. Mickie in PA

    You would think with all of McCain's experience and Obama's lack thereof, that McCain would be more able to handle more than one matter at a time. Let's face it, McCain was afraid of the debate because he felt the urgency shiftins toward the economy and knew that would come up at the debate regardless and he needed to find out from Rove and Bush what he should say. He's deceitful and I truly desparate for power so that he can start his own war and see himself as the "hero" again. He is truly senile.

    September 26, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. Baze

    I'm speechless

    September 26, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. sm

    Obama is behaving like the VILLAGE IDIOT !!!

    The Audience will put the questions to Jim Lehrer.
    Jim Lehrer will then soften the questions and politely put them to His Highness King Hussein Obama just like they do with the Elders meetings in western Kenya.

    This guy is a Joke !!!!!!

    September 26, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. Crazy Cat Lady

    How much you want to bet, McCain isn't there for the start; the town hall meeting begins; then just as Obama's hitting his stride, who should make a dramatic entrance but - McSuperCain! Striding form the wings onto the stage, seizing the microphone to proclaim with modest pride that he, he alone, has wrought a bailout plan that will Save America!!!!

    September 26, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  6. Dan, Mpls

    Can you believe this, I just read an article that the McCain's campaign is blaming Obama for the break down of the bail out deal. Wow, I thought that I have seen it all. this is gutter polcitics at its best.

    September 26, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. Lynn: 60 yr old white Obama supporter

    Hopefully, if McCain does not show up for the debate, CNN will have a close watch of McCain's activity during that time.

    This whole Republican/McCain stunt to blindside Obama by reaching a deal while he is in Mississippi. Come in to town, mess up the negotiations, "save America while Obama is at the scheduled debate.

    Hopefully the Democrates are smart enough to stop this utterly tragic ploy of playing with America's financial security by a pathetic man who is putting politics and himself ahead of Country.

    September 26, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  8. Dana, NYC

    people, please understand that McCain at his age can not multi task. The guy can bearly focus for 5 minutes!!! This political stunt will not work. Give some credit to the american people

    September 26, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  9. John in Ohio

    There have never been more then 4 televised presidential debates in the general election. There have never been televised presidential debates before the respective political conventions, when the candidates are *officially nominated* by their party. Was there a lot of certainty going into the conventions about how they were going to proceed? Could the conventions have been total game changers resulting in different nominated presidential candidates? Absolutely. The debates are held after the conventions for a reason.

    So, McCain calling for a bunch of town hall debates was a cheap political stunt and a sign of instability.

    Now we've got an economy in crisis, it's been a couple weeks since the conventions, it's been a long time since the primary debates, and we've just got a few weeks before the general election. People need to know what the different candidates stand for, and people need to see how those candidates stand against each other. Obama and McCain should be informed on the bailout process, but they're not on a banking committee, they're not on a finance committee, outside of reading the finalized bill and then voting for or against it they don't have a Senatorial role to fill in this crisis. Additionally, the Senate is not going to be doing anything about this bill one way or the other at the time when the debate is scheduled.

    McCain should show up and debate, and refusing to do so is a cheap political stunt and a sign of instability.

    But it will play great with his base.

    September 26, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  10. Eric

    It's off topic but I start to feel sorry for Palin. To anyone who saw her giving the interview to Couric, you can't help but think she makes a fool of herself in front of millions. If it were only her, it would be one thing, but to think of her children who'll grow up having this image of her mother, being ridiculed for months and months.

    Iam quite angry at McCain for that. He chose her knowing she had no qualification. He was solely interested in getting some votes from Clinton's supporters and the right-wing nut cases. Of course she was going to say yes, the woman thinks she is qualified, which goes a long way to tell you how much , her and her witch hunter pastor, she's off the map. I hope she will quit before it's too late.

    September 26, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. sky

    If McCain does not show up for this debate I want to know what he is doing at EXACTLY that same time.....I want a camera on him showing the world how he is saving us from the economic crisis right that very second while the debate was to occur. While Barack is doing there facing the questions unafraid, I want to actually see what McCain is doing....right that same moment....while everyone else is watching the debate....while all the other committee members are eating dinner or home in bed or watching the debate....what is it that John McCain will be doing to save the economy all by himself......If he really truly has a reason...some pressing business that takes precedence while everyone else in the world watches the debate over their dinner.....then show me...prove it....put a camera on him at exactly the time he should be debating.

    September 26, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. linda., bella vista, ar

    Keith substituted for McCentury on Letterman the other night. What's good enough for Letterman should be good enough for the Debate.

    September 26, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. Politicat 2

    John McCain has so been involved in what has gone wrong since George Bush got complete control in White house and Congress for first 6 years of his Administration. No wonder everything is such a mess

    September 26, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. Michael, watching from Canada

    Good leadership multitasks.

    Can you imagine if the President of a large corporation decided to suspend all operations of the corporation in order to focus all his efforts with the financial department to make sure that a resolution to a major financial crisis is obtained?

    And oh, by the way, the President has no economics expertise!

    The real world requires smart leaders of large corporations to manage operations effectively AT THE SAME TIME THEY ARE DEALING WITH CRISES!

    Besides, the debate is scheduled on a Friday evening (at a time when very little will get done on Capitol Hill anyways).

    September 26, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Vincent, Great Lakes Illinois

    No one is going to change what has happened overnight. If McCain was true in saying "Country First" he would have not picked Palin as running mate AND he would have gotten his happy butt back to Washington LAST WEEK.

    Besides, there is no reason to run to Washington when we have webcams out there where everything being said on the floor can be received all over the country if need be. Heck, he can even vote via the internet if need be.

    Moot point in having to be in Washington. He NEEDS to get on with the debate or have the V.P's take their place.

    September 26, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. david

    McCain will be there. I have no idea what kind of rodent he will put out of his hat to call a white rabbit. I am very happy with David Letterman and Paris Hilton, expertly done! So when McCain does show up – I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the celebrities that in the end forced him to recognize the power of celebrity status over today's polls and public opinions. Not all celebrities are bubble heads! McCain has gotten so much ridiculous press after ditching Dave that there's very few opportunities for him to make it better by election day, so he will spend the first 30 minutes of debate scrambling about Dave and how he really doesn't want to be there, and Jim will rip him to shreds I promise! This is exactly why I don't subscribe to early voting – candidates can change faster than the press of a button of pull of a lever!

    September 26, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. Nelson Colorado Springs Co

    The debate must go on the state of Mississippi has spent over 5 million dollar for this debate. So let's get on as Mr. Marvin said. Go Obama/Biden

    September 26, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. America will be free again

    Jeff, Noah and the rest of you 2 face liars...
    I really dont know what country you guys are in or what planet u talking from....You are talking about the staged town halls that McCain planned to sink Obama? How about the cone of silence in Saddle back church ....It was later found out that McCain was not in any cone he was far away in his car....Obama is too smart to be trapped by McCain. Chris rock said it last night you guys are selfish racist. Who woud rather vote for incompetence than voting right to save the country.
    Obama warns jmac about 48hrs ago not to go to washington to distract the bipartisan proceedings..Did he listen? No instead went ahead and the deal that was reached an hour b4 he got there went out throught the window.
    For you information and to clear ur ignorance Obama didnt plan this debate ...the presidential debate commission did.

    September 26, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. charlene

    STop letting John McCain hold this debate HOSTAGE. He should be absolutely ashamed of himself. Does he think that his is some kind of a game, like "Keep America Waiting"

    September 26, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. Janet

    the debate SHOULD go on with BOTH candidates. Even in the middle of a national crisis, the president has to address the nation and explain the problem and his solutions. Why should the candidates be any different??????

    September 26, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. Veterans for Obama

    Just make it a Biden/palin debate....that would be hilarious!

    September 26, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. Grant

    McCain will show up. He knows if he doesn't that the election is totally lost. His gamble isn't working and he has to know that he is looking very unpresidential right now. If an agreement is reached on the bailout,McCain will declare Mission Accomplished. Where have we all heard that before? I want to hear from Obama and McCain on what they are going to do to ease our pain.

    September 26, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. dennis

    he is afraid of of obama, 90minutes will not change any difference in the economy. he has been in congress for 27years all that year McCain has been sleeping in the backset or warming the beanch.

    September 26, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  24. Brian Knoxville TN

    While I don't agree with Palin on ANY policy issue, I must say I feel for her, the way the McCain campaign treats her. She's not being allowed to speak to anyone, and that's got to be demoralizing for her. Her lack of self-confidence was evident during her interview with Couric. She's trying hard to be what McCains handlers want her to be, instead of being herself. I bet she's wishing she could get off this trainwreck and get back to Alaska, where she can be herself. It's really very sad.

    September 26, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. Jeff Brown


    September 26, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11