Citing the financial crisis, John McCain announced Wednesday that he’d like to skip Friday’s debate so he can put on his senator hat and get back to work in Washington. Unimpressed, Rep. Barney Frank called the idea “the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, put it another way: “What, does McCain think the Senate will still be working at 9 p.m. Friday?”

The whole stunt started when Barack Obama called his rival to discuss issuing a joint statement on the economy and the bailout proposal, which is reportedly forthcoming. McCain later suggested a suspension of the campaign, which Obama rejected.

But according to McCain campaign whiz Steve Schmidt, the Arizonan isn’t taking “no” for an answer: “Sen. McCain made a decision today to suspend his campaign to return to Washington. … He had a very good conversation with Sen. Obama, who also understands the severity of the economic crisis.”

Update: Americans want a debate, and an Obama official says “the debate is on.”

New York Times:

Although Mr. McCain was the first to emerge on Wednesday afternoon and announce a change in campaign plans, Mr. Obama began the exchange with his Republican rival on Wednesday morning.

“At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal,” said Bill Burton, the spokesman for the Obama campaign.

“At 2:30 this afternoon,” he added, “Senator McCain returned Senator Obama’s call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details.”

Some Democrats reacted skeptically to Mr. McCain’s surprise announcement, charging that it seemed like a political ploy to try to gain the confidence of voters concerned about the economy.

Read more


If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.