Now things are getting interesting.
Earlier today, John McCain said he was suspending active campaigning, returning to Washington, and asking for a postponment of Friday’s debate in Oxford, Mississippi.
Barack Obama has responded and has refused to follow McCain’s lead:
Reacts to McCain’s proposal in Clearwater, Florida: “This is exactly the time the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess.”
The problem, of course, is that the subject of Friday’s debate is foreign policy, not economic policy so it’s unclear exactly how Americans’ fears about the economy are going to be calmed by hearing Obama and McCain debate missile shields for Ukraine or NATO membership for Georgia. I’m not saying that these aren’t important issues, but Obama’s suggestion that the debate must go forward so that the public can hear from the candidates makes no sense given that they presumably won’t even be discussing that issue.
And there was another part of Obama’s statement that puzzled me:
“What I’ve told the leadership in Congress is that if I can be helpful then I am prepared to be anywhere, anytime. What I think is important is that we don’t suddenly infuse Capitol Hill with presidential politics…”
If you can be helpful ? In case you’ve forgotten sir, you are the junior Senator from Illinois. Don’t you think you should be in the Senate debating the most important piece of legislation this year, and something that will impact the economy for years to come ?
And in case you hadn’t noticed, Capitol Hill is already infused with politics.
I have no idea how this will play out, partly because we’ve never really been faced with this type of situation before.
My initial thought is that McCain gets leadership points here for putting the economic situation above his Presidential campaign and that Obama is making a mistake by insisting that there really isn’t anything important enough going on in Washington to demand his attention or participation. There’s also the possibility, though, that McCain could be seen as over-reacting and acting impulsively, which is something he’s done in the past in a manner that has not worked out so well in the end.