McCain to debate after all (updated with disagreement)

Rick Moran
Despite the fact there is no agreement on a Wall Street bailout, John McCain will go to Mississippi tonight and participate in the presidential debate. From Mike Allen and Dan Reilly of Politico:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ended three days of suspense on Friday morning and announced that he will leave bailout negotiations in Washington and fly to Oxford, Miss., for tonight's opening presidential debate.

McCain had previously said that he would suspend his campaign-and so would not attend the debate-until an agreement was reached on the administration's $700 billion mortgage proposal.

No such agreement has been reached, but Republicans said the standoff was hurting McCain's campaign and that he would look terrible if he didn't attend the nationally televised, eagerly anticipated debate, while Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was ready to go on stage.

McCain was headed from his campaign office to the airport to fly to the University of Mississippi for the 9 p.m. Eastern debate.

In a statement, McCain's campaign said: "Senator McCain has spent the morning talking to members of the Administration, members of the Senate, and members of the House. He is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations, including Representative [Roy] Blunt as a designated negotiator for House Republicans."

It doesn't matter what the debate is ostensibly about (foreign policy). The first question to McCain will be something like "Why did you decide to attend the debate after promising not to until a bailout agreement had been reached?" It's a trick question because there is no answer McCain could give that would pass the smell test. His gambit has failed and I suspect (although the polls may surprise me) that McCain has been hurt by the whole affair.

I might also point out that McCain's prep time for this debate has been severely limited so the chances of some major league gaffe have risen greatly. Obama will have canned answers all memorized so he will come off presidential and relaxed. Besides, just between you and me, I suspect many stories declaring Obama the hands down winner of the debate have already been written. 

Update from Thomas Lifson

Once again I see things differently from Rick.

There is every reason to expect that the debate will be about the bailout bill. McCain can state that it is important for the American public to understand what went on in the meeting he and Obama attended, because the Democrats have been lying about it. Obama led, as the Reid and Pelosi deferred to him. He attacked the Republican counter-plan that had been sent to him in advance, and the meeting erupted into a shouting match. The Democrats are blaming McCain, who didn't speak until the end (as inadvertently acknowledged by Reid).

He can then say that the House Democrats have the ability to pass the bill without Republican support. In fact, Republicans couldn't stop it if they tried. Once the House passes it, the bill will be on the Thomas website, and everyone can look at it, as he joins Senator Obama in the Senate debate.

If the Democrats think the bill is sound, they should "put country first" and pass it. Nevermind the politics. They will get the credit if it works. And like President Bush, accountability if it doesn't work. Senator Obama should call on Speaker Pelosi to expedite the bill, if he thinks it is sound. (Put Obama on the spot.)

He might then mention the earmark for ACORN buried in the bill,  mentioned by his friend Lindsey Graham.

Let Obama deal with the material minus a teleprompter.

The whole nation will be watching.
Despite the fact there is no agreement on a Wall Street bailout, John McCain will go to Mississippi tonight and participate in the presidential debate. From Mike Allen and Dan Reilly of Politico:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ended three days of suspense on Friday morning and announced that he will leave bailout negotiations in Washington and fly to Oxford, Miss., for tonight's opening presidential debate.

McCain had previously said that he would suspend his campaign-and so would not attend the debate-until an agreement was reached on the administration's $700 billion mortgage proposal.

No such agreement has been reached, but Republicans said the standoff was hurting McCain's campaign and that he would look terrible if he didn't attend the nationally televised, eagerly anticipated debate, while Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was ready to go on stage.

McCain was headed from his campaign office to the airport to fly to the University of Mississippi for the 9 p.m. Eastern debate.

In a statement, McCain's campaign said: "Senator McCain has spent the morning talking to members of the Administration, members of the Senate, and members of the House. He is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations, including Representative [Roy] Blunt as a designated negotiator for House Republicans."

It doesn't matter what the debate is ostensibly about (foreign policy). The first question to McCain will be something like "Why did you decide to attend the debate after promising not to until a bailout agreement had been reached?" It's a trick question because there is no answer McCain could give that would pass the smell test. His gambit has failed and I suspect (although the polls may surprise me) that McCain has been hurt by the whole affair.

I might also point out that McCain's prep time for this debate has been severely limited so the chances of some major league gaffe have risen greatly. Obama will have canned answers all memorized so he will come off presidential and relaxed. Besides, just between you and me, I suspect many stories declaring Obama the hands down winner of the debate have already been written. 

Update from Thomas Lifson

Once again I see things differently from Rick.

There is every reason to expect that the debate will be about the bailout bill. McCain can state that it is important for the American public to understand what went on in the meeting he and Obama attended, because the Democrats have been lying about it. Obama led, as the Reid and Pelosi deferred to him. He attacked the Republican counter-plan that had been sent to him in advance, and the meeting erupted into a shouting match. The Democrats are blaming McCain, who didn't speak until the end (as inadvertently acknowledged by Reid).

He can then say that the House Democrats have the ability to pass the bill without Republican support. In fact, Republicans couldn't stop it if they tried. Once the House passes it, the bill will be on the Thomas website, and everyone can look at it, as he joins Senator Obama in the Senate debate.

If the Democrats think the bill is sound, they should "put country first" and pass it. Nevermind the politics. They will get the credit if it works. And like President Bush, accountability if it doesn't work. Senator Obama should call on Speaker Pelosi to expedite the bill, if he thinks it is sound. (Put Obama on the spot.)

He might then mention the earmark for ACORN buried in the bill,  mentioned by his friend Lindsey Graham.

Let Obama deal with the material minus a teleprompter.

The whole nation will be watching.