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Behind Team McCain's Sudden Gambit

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John McCain's statement "suspending" his campaign, in which he proposes to postpone the first presidential debate.

Well, that was, ah, sudden. Yesterday, as I've reported on my New West Notes, John McCain campaign topper Steve Schmidt's consulting partner, former Arnold Schwarzenegger communications director Adam Mendelsohn, traveled to Mississippi to handle media relations for Friday night's debate on foreign policy, McCain's seeming strong suit. But this afternoon, East Coast time, Team McCain moved to delay the debate and "suspend" the presidential campaign. To focus on events in Washington.

Where McCain has not cast a vote in the U.S. Senate in nearly six months.

What has happened in the intervening period from yesterday to this morning? Well, first, that would be a series of polls, including those in battleground states and those in national polls -- from ABC News to even FOX News -- mostly showing Obama surging ahead of McCain.

Meanwhile, as Schmidt and Mendelsohn et al know first-hand, I've been wrapping up a column on Friday night's foreign policy debate. Which is a typical American media misnomer, as "foreign" policy in the 21st century is geopolitics. Which merely affects virtually everything in American politics today -- from flows of energy, capital, people, products, and ideas to the deep questions of this country's balance of trade and military budget.

A column on the "foreign policy debate" amounts to doing a tour d'horizon, then putting it all into relatively brief and accessible terms for a larger audience.

But, overnight, Team McCain had a different, confounding idea. While I have been in the process of wrapping up a column on the geopolitics debate for Friday night -- which in what we laughingly call the national media debate, chattering in ADD fashion all the way, affects everything in America -- several New West Notes posters informed me that John McCain intended to postpone the debate, which is on his seeming strong suit, and suspend his campaign per se, in order to focus on the financial crisis.

A reality check. This is an attempted reboot, in a losing scenario. McCain has been all over the lot on the financial crisis. His problem? He is a staunch deregulationist, at a moment in history in which it is clear that that approach has failed. I'm not going to get into the question of the role of McCain's key staff in lobbying for and receiving major value from various big finance entities. But it is quite significant. Indeed, it is difficult to preruse the top ranks of the McCain campaign without finding a a wealthy lobbyist.

More to the point, despite Team McCain trotting out one of their pollsters this morning on a conference call, it is clear that Obama is surging in various polls. I haven't bothered to comment on all of them, one of them being the FOX News poll.

I hope Obama does not cancel the debate. Which I am sure he will not. And not just because I have spent some time on a column. But because the issues have been ignored, they are all linked when you see the overall, and there is not a lot of time left to debate them.