Postpone the Debate? Obama Should Not Fall for this Cheap Political Ploy by a Desperate McCain

10/25/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Facing the prospect of a political bludgeoning Friday night in the first televised debate with Democrat Sen. Barack Obama, Republican Sen. John McCain has announced that he's "suspending" his campaign to work on the economy, and is requesting that the debate be delayed because of the current financial crisis. Seems like the real crisis lies within the McCain campaign.

Senators this week have been debating the $700-billion bailout bill proposed by President Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. But I'm not exactly sure what work McCain would be doing specifically, as he is not on the Banking Committee nor seems personally involved in solving the crisis.

Sorry if I'm skeptical of McCain's altruism, but his motivation seems extremely self-serving. Hardly seems like a "Country First" maneuver. A new Washington Post/ABC News national poll released Wednesday shows Obama breaking away with a 9 point lead, 52%-43%, among likely voters. McCain led 49%-47% just two weeks ago. And with an eye on the current meltdown on Wall Street, the poll found that voters trust Obama by a 14-point margin to better handle the economy. I can't blame McCain. Given how voters view him and his party, I'm not sure I'd want to go before a national TV audience and discuss the economy either.

In a prepared statement, McCain said: "It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the administration's proposal. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time. Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington."

Just exactly what "work" McCain would be doing in Washington this week that would preclude him from debating Obama Friday night is a mystery. The media should be demanding specifics as to his involvement. He should not be allowed this sanctimonious side-step that's designed to give him a presidential air while putting Obama on the spot. It simply seems like more of the same GOP framing, as in, "if you don't agree to postpone the debate you're against the American economy."

Just wait. Should Obama refuse to postpone, we'll get a non-stop barrage of: "My friends, I'm sorry Sen. Obama has chosen to put his own personal political gain before the needs of the country and the American people."

Obama must stand his ground, not fall prey to this phony posturing, and insist on holding the debate as planned.

We don't need McCain in Washington. His Commerce Committee's years of deregulation is a major reason why we're in this mess in the first place. What we need is both candidates on that stage Friday night telling the American people how they're going to address the nation's mounting economic and foreign policy challenges.