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Milenko Kindl pfjejwepfk

P: n/a
NEW YORK - The economic crisis and raw politics threatened to derail
the first presidential debate as John McCain challenged Barack Obama
to delay Friday's event to work on the financial crisis. Obama
rebuffed the plea, saying presidents need to "deal with more than one
thing at once."

The White House rivals maneuvered Wednesday to claim the leadership
role in resolving the economic turmoil that has overshadowed their
campaign. Obama said he would continue preparing for the debate and
consulting with bailout negotiators and Treasury Secretary Henry
Paulson. McCain said he would stop all campaigning and return to
Washington on Thursday to work toward a bipartisan solution.

"This is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from
the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for
dealing with this mess," Obama said in Clearwater, Fla. "It's going to
be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at

But McCain said they must focus on a bipartisan solution as the Bush
administration's $700 billion bailout proposal seemed headed for
defeat. If not, McCain said ominously that credit will dry up,
jeopardizing home sales, individual savings and company payrolls.

"I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently
stands, and we are running out of time," McCain said.

Both candidates accepted President Bush's invitation to attend a White
House meeting Thursday afternoon with congressional leaders in hopes
of agreeing on a rescue plan. McCain had spoken with Bush earlier
Wednesday and requested such a meeting.

In a joint statement Wednesday night, the candidates said the country
faces "a moment of economic crisis" and they called for political
unity to solve it because "the jobs, savings and the prosperity of the
American people are at stake." Both said Bush's plan was "flawed."

"We cannot risk an economic catastrophe," they said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., McCain's representative in debate
negotiations, told The Associated Press that McCain will not attend
the debate unless there is agreement on a solution that is publicly
endorsed by Obama, McCain, the White House and congressional leaders.

Asked whether the debate could go on, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs
said: "My sense is there's going to be a stage, a moderator, an
audience and at least one presidential candidate."

The jockeying between McCain and Obama began after the senators spoke
privately Wednesday.

McCain beat Obama to the punch with the first public statement. The
surprise announcement was an attempt to outmaneuver Obama on an issue
McCain trails on and as the Democrat gains in the polls. McCain went
before TV cameras minutes after they spoke and before the campaigns
could hammer out the agreed-upon joint statement.

Obama, too, made a political calculation by rejecting McCain's
challenge while still trying to appear on top of the problem. Obama
repeatedly stressed that he called McCain first to propose a joint
statement. He said McCain called back several hours later and agreed,
but also said he wanted to postpone the debate and hold joint meetings
in Washington. Obama said he suggested they first issue the statement.

"When I got back to the hotel, he had gone on television to announce
what he was going to do," Obama said.

McCain said he would return to Washington on Thursday after an address
to former President Clinton's Global Initiative session. He canceled a
scheduled appearance on CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman" and
a meeting with India's prime minister.

McCain called Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi to propose that joint meetings with Obama and
congressional leaders be held quickly, according to leadership aides.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley said Reid responded by reading McCain his
public statement, in which Reid said it would not be helpful for the
candidates to come back and inject presidential politics into the

Reid later told reporters that McCain "is trying to divert attention
from his failing campaign."

Debate planners said they were continuing to prepare for the event at
the University of Mississippi.

McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, was canceling her limited campaign
events. She told the "CBS Evening News" that the country could be
headed for another Great Depression if Congress doesn't reach a

How long the suspension would last, McCain adviser Steve Schmidt would
not say.

McCain has struggled with how to handle the situation, which he might
escape with modest political damage if he and Obama can reach some
type of accord on the matter.

Scores of congressional Republicans hinted this week that they may
oppose the $700 billion proposal, and Reid pointedly suggested that
Democrats could not be expected to back it if McCain did not publicly
do so.

That leaves McCain with two unpalatable choices. He can oppose a major
Republican initiative the administration says is needed to prevent a
full-blown recession, and risk blame if the prediction comes true. Or
he can vote for an extraordinarily costly bailout, which many
Americans seem to resent, just when polls show him falling farther
behind Obama.

Obama also risks voter wrath if he supports the bailout. But he could
frame his stand as bipartisan statesmanship, whereas McCain's vote
could be spun as another example of him siding with Bush, a major
impediment to his campaign.

Milenko Kindl
Banja Luka
Sep 25 '08 #1
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