In response to McCain's statement today about his intention to suspend his campaign to work on the bailout bill, Senator Obama held a news conference to reiterate what he would like to see in the bill, as well as his view that the debate should go on as scheduled. Although he wouldn't answer direct questions about whether he thought McCain's decision was politically-motivated, he went out of his way to make clear that he approached McCain first and that he thinks this is an ideal time for a debate because the American people deserve to know how the next President will solve these problems.
"This is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from their leaders.
"With respect to the debates, it’s my belief that 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. And I think that it is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once. I think there’s no reason why we can’t be constructive in helping to solve this problem and also tell the American people what we believe and where we stand and where we want to take the country."
Pelosi and Reid are calling McCain's bluff:
"The debate should take place as scheduled," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with NPR to be broadcast this afternoon. "We have to be able to do a couple of things at once. That's what leadership requires."
"I understand that the candidates are putting together a joint statement at Senator Obama's suggestion," said Sen. Harry Reid. "But it would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation's economy. If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op."
UPDATE: Chris Matthews just reported that the Debate Commission and Ole Miss have announced that the debate will continue as scheduled. SuveryUSA conducted a lightning-quick poll and found that 90% of Americans believe the debate should go on as scheduled.
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The first debate between John McCain and Barack Obama is scheduled to take place in two days. Should the debate be held as scheduled? Should the debate be held, but the format changed to focus on the economy? Or, should the debate be postponed?
Hold as scheduled: 50
Hold with focus on economy: 36