Thursday, September 25, 2008

History repeating: Not the first time McCain has cancelled a debate

One day before the first scheduled Presidential Debate the big question remains: Will John McCain will end his political grandstanding and show up? Yesterday, McCain said he would only attend the debate if an agreement was reached on the financial industry bailout bill. A vote is set for Saturday on the tentative deal reached today. So a vote on Saturday, the day after the debate, shouldn't keep McCain from attending yet he still won't commit.

This wouldn't be the first time McCain cut and run on a debate. On March 3, 2000, with polls showing his campaign dead in the water among California Republicans, John McCain pulled out of a long-scheduled debate to be held in Los Angeles with then Texas Gov. George Bush. The CNN-Los Angeles Times debate was the only scheduled head-to-head meeting of the two candidates in California before the primary.

McCain's campaign tried to cover up for the terrible poll numbers and attributed McCain's cancellation on Bush's earlier reluctance to appear at the debate. Sound familiar? Fast forward to this election -- just weeks ago, McCain was blaming the nasty tenor of the campaign on Barack Obama because he wouldn't accept McCain's invitation to appear at Town Hall meetings. Hmmm. Blame the other guy for your shortcomings, good one.

Rewind back to the debate vs. Bush in 2000 -- McCain's campaign confirmed to CNN that he would not appear but McCain and his surrogates wouldn't admit it publicly. The same day they told CNN it was a no-go, the San Francisco Chornicle questioned McCain's communications director, Dan Schnur, about whether McCain would attend. Schnur said, "Thirty- three million Californians are worth that attention . . . and we'll be there, either way.''

So here we are, 8 years later and McCain is up to his old tricks. This week McCain has gotten hammered in the polls for his schizophrenic remarks about the economy. When an opportunity presented itself for him to duck out of the debate, claiming the economy wouldn't survive without his immediate attention, he took it.


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