COMMENTS: Melodramatic McCain

Let's reconstruct the melodramatic day on the campaign trail. "For more than a week now the candidates have been all but eclipsed by the crisis on Wall Street," recounted ABC's David Wright, eclipsed, that is, until John McCain "dropped a political bombshell." The day started with Barack Obama placing a telephone call to McCain. The idea, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell (no link) told us, was to put together a joint statement in support of the financial bailout legislation. McCain returned the call in the afternoon and "the candidates discussed the need for swift bipartisan action to get a deal done." They agreed on the statement. Subsequently, according to CBS' Chip Reid, McCain became "convinced" that the plan "had almost no chance of passage thereby imperiling the economy."

McCain's solution was to suspend running for President until a bill gets passed. He announced he had canceled all stump events, all television advertising, all fundraising and his plans to participate in Friday's debate in Mississippi. He then scheduled an Exclusive interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric to publicize his non-candidacy: "Now is not the time for statements. The time is now to act," he declared. "This is a crisis of enormous proportions but we can fix it and America's best days are ahead of us."

Couric turned to CBS' political correspondent Jeff Greenfield to analyze McCain's suspension: "His campaign slogan is Country First. He wants to be seen as the man who put aside politics, came back and somehow supervised some kind of agreement with a very reluctant Republican Party. The danger is: does anybody see this as non-political?" Obama, meanwhile, decided to continue to support the legislation, to continue on the campaign trail and to continue to prepare to debate. "Multitasking he called it," noted NBC's Lee Cowan (no link). "The sign of a good President, he says."


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