McCain Has a History of Backing Out of Debates
Well, Sen. McCain has decided to attend tonight's debate after all. According to a statement from the McCain campaign, Sen. McCain "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 a designated representative for House Republicans).
Several things about this are worth noting. First, from what I've read so far, Sen. McCain may be the only person who believes that there has been "significant progress". It sounds as if virtually everyone thought that a deal had been worked out yesterday until House Republicans torpedoed it (query whether that was because they really opposed the plan or because they wanted to give Sen. McCain the chance to be the proverbial hero). And given that the proposal that House Republicans floated late Thursday afternoon was apparently a non-starter for President Bush, Secretary Paulson, Senate Republicans, and House and Senate Democrats, I'm not quite sure where Sen. McCain's optimism comes from. Or, perhaps said differently, there may be reason for optimism on the basis of the fact that leaders in Washington recognize the need to reach some sort of resolution, but I don't see how exactly the involvement of House Republicans has helped. (And query further: Weren't House Republicans involved all the way along in the process?)
No, to me Sen. McCain's decision looks more like a reaction to polls that show overwhelming support by the American public for the debate to be held tonight. Polls came out a few days ago that showed that Sen. Obama had taken the lead, in large part due to the economy, so Sen. McCain tried to deflect attention. Now, when polls show that people don't like his decision, he changes his mind.
And one more thing worth noting: This was not the first time that Sen. McCain has tried to back out of a Presidential debate! In the 2000 primaries, Sen. McCain was scheduled to debate then-Gov. Bush in California. Yet when polls came out showing that Sen. McCain was trailing Gov. Bush, what did Sen. McCain do? He canceled and didn't debate. Sounds strangely familiar, doesn't it?
Just for the record, here is Sen. Obama's statement about the negotiations and the debate:
At this point, my strong sense is that the best thing that I can do, rather thanFinally, I couldn't help but be struck by the comments of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a McCain supporter (and former contender for the Republican nomination), who said that Sen. McCain:
to inject presidential politics into these delicate negotiations, is to go down
to Mississippi and explain to the American people what is going on and my vision
for leading the country over the next four years.
[M]ade a "huge mistake" by even discussing canceling the debate.When your own supporters tell you that your strategy was a huge mistake? Ouch. You know, I'd kinda like Gov. Huckabee if his views on every issue that is important to me weren't so completely contrary to my own. Other than that, he seems like a pretty good guy.
"You can't just say, 'World, stop for a moment. I'm going to cancel everything,'" Huckabee told reporters Thursday night in Alabama before attending a benefit for the University of Mobile. He said it's more important for voters to hear from the presidential candidates than for them to huddle with fellow senators in Washington.