Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is announcing that he would like to suspend his campaign and delay Friday’s foreign policy debate to focus on the financial crisis. According to MSNBC, McCain would like to come back to Washington and help work out a bailout package on Thursday. Watch MSNBC’s report:
This interest in the bailout is new for McCain. As recently as yesterday, when a reporter asked him about his position on the Bush administration’s financial proposals, McCain said, “I have not had a chance to see it in writing. I have to examine it.” As the stock market tanked and the federal government bailed out financial institutions over the past week, McCain has been campaigning around the country. Originally, McCain McCain planned to skip the vote on the bailout and continue campaigning.
The last time McCain voted in the Senate was on April 8.
UPDATE I: Statement from Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton:
At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal. At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama’s call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details.
UPDATE II: Matt Yglesias observes, “Meanwhile, I think walking and chewing gum at the same time is part of the president’s job.”
UPDATE III: McCain has also canceled his planned appearance on David Letterman tonight.
UPDATE IV: Fox reporter Carl Cameron lauded the “very, very big move” by McCain. Fox host Martha MacCallum hailed it as “a bold move, a very strong move.” Cameron added that McCain is making “some political sacrifice” by volunteering to leave the campaign trail. Watch it:
UPDATE V: How McCain has dealt with domestic crises in the past:
UPDATE VI: A senior Obama campaign official allegedly told ABC News, “The debate is on.”
UPDATE VII: Ben Smith observes what may have prompted the McCain campaign to call for the suspension: “But in terms of the timing of this move: The only thing that’s changed in the last 48 hours is the public polling.”
UPDATE VIII: McCain senior adviser Mark Salter said that McCain “will suspend airing all ads and all campaign events pending an agreement with Obama, though Salter did not know whether John McCain will suspend fundraising activities. He added that McCain would take part in the debate as scheduled if Congress reached agreement on the measure by Friday morning.”
UPDATE IX: Politico reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) just called McCain, and told him that it “wouldn’t be helpful” for him to return to Washington.
UPDATE X: A senior official at the University of Mississippi tells ABC News that the cancellation of the debate would be “devastating” because the university has already invested millions in preparations.
UPDATE XI: The McCain campaign accidentally sent its talking points on the debate cancellation to reporters.
UPDATE XII: Despite canceling with Letterman and calling off the debate, McCain still found time to sit down for an interview with Couric.
UPDATE XIII: Today on NPR, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “Someone had suggested that he wanted the debate to be postponed so he could come here to work. I mean, he’s so rarely here that that would be interesting. But, nonetheless, I think there’s plenty of time for the debate to take place.”
UPDATE XIV: In February, McCain skipped the Senate’s vote on the economic stimulus package.