Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain announced Wednesday that he is suspending his campaign to return to Washington and focus on the "historic" crisis facing the U.S. economy.
Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama said at a news conference later Wednesday that he and McCain had spoken by phone and had agreed to issue a joint statement about shared principles in the approach to resolving the economic crisis.
But he disagreed with McCain's call for postponing Friday's first presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi.
"It's my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person will be the next president," Obama said. "It is going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once. It's more important than ever to present ourselves to the American people."
Now of course, someone of my political persuasion is inclined to believe that this is a stunt by McCain, an effort to gain some credibility on the economic issue and avoid being completely overwhelmed by the day-in and day-out stories about the financial crisis on Wall Street. I don't actually think it's necessary for McCain or Obama to be on Capitol Hill to help see to the passage of a responsible bailout plan, but McCain is certainly in need of a dramatic move to reverse Obama's gains in recent polling. Will this move do that? I predict, definitely not.
For his part Barack Obama is resisting calls to suspend his own campaign, or and rejects the idea of rescheduling Friday night's debate between the candidates, though he appears to be working to draft some kind of joint statement on the issue with McCain. I was not aware that this issue was now suddenly non-partisan, so I'm a little puzzled by that development.
UDPATE: James Wolcott on McCain's move:
McCain beat Obama to the punch on the cable news channels at the expense of preparation and deportment; his announcement looked like it was thrown together by a short-order cook and its desperate haste revealed its insincerity as an opportunistic play posing as congressional statesmanship. It looked like a gadget play meant to flummox the defense, only to result in a fumble.
UPDATE II: Very initial poll results indicate that most Americans are opposed to postponing the debate.