Last week was probably the worst week of the campaign for John McCain, and this week seems to be starting off equally rocky. In recent days, McCain has stated that the fundamentals of the economy are strong while the stock market was crashing. He "suspended" his campaign and canceled his debate appearance while purchasing web ads saying he "won" the debate before he announced that he would participate in the debate after all. He canceled an appearance on Letterman, stating he was "on his way to the airport" to race back to DC to help avert economic catastrophe, while he actually went to another nearby CBS building to be interviewed by Katie Couric (he actually did not leave NYC until the following day after giving a morning talk).
Ironically, McCain started this week on ABC's This Week, and his performance was as erratic as his last week.
McCain was originally scheduled to air a live town hall event in the battleground state of Ohio on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. McCain canceled that event Friday afternoon too, stating that he needed to be in Washington, DC to help negotiate the bailout. The show sent this cancellation notice via email to (at least some of the) participants:
Thank you very much for agreeing to be part of my show this Sunday. Unfortunately, as a result of the ongoing Congressional debate over the economic bailout package, John McCain has elected to stay in Washington DC and do the program from here. We thank you again for taking the time to speak to us over the phone and for all your thoughtful questions. Hopefully we can revive this at some point in the near future.
According to some participants, however, not everyone received notification, and many participants arrived at the event only to find that it had been canceled. According to some of the people on the ground, Secret Service were not given orders to leave the site of the town hall until Saturday afternoon.
Also interesting, is the indication in the email that both participants and questions were prescreened, which is adding more fodder, especially in the weekends blogs. Instead of hosting a town hall in Ohio, Stephanopoulos interviewed McCain on a set in DC.
During the interview, Stephanopoulos pointed out that while McCain took on Obama for "talking out loud about going into Pakistan," Palin made a statement supporting Obama's position:
If that's what we have to do to stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely we should.
First McCain tried to say that Palin shares McCain's view that we should not "announce it ahead of time," but when Stephanopoulos pointed out that under that policy Palin shouldn't have made that statement, McCain retorted with this gem:
In all due respect, people going around and with sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that's a person's position. It's a free country, but I don't think most people think that's a definitive policy statement by Governor Palin, and I would hope you wouldn't either.
Stephanopoulos did not ask McCain any followup questions.