Today McCain announced that he would suspend campaigning so that he can work on the financial crisis bailout plan. This move called Harry Reid’s bluff after he made the following comment: “We need, now, the Republicans to start producing some votes for us. We need the Republican nominee for president to let us know where he stands and what we should do.”
I think McCain made the right choice by putting the country first and agreeing to go back to Washington and focus on the economy. As Allahpundit points out: “If McCain takes ownership of the bailout effort and manages to get his suggestions on limiting executive compensation and so on as part of the finished product, he will be able to trot McCain-Dodd on the campaign trail as yet another reform he’s accomplished by working across the aisle. And in a time of crisis, no less.” Of course Reid is now back-tracking and asking McCain to say away (which is for another post) but McCain should ignore him and go to Washington anyway.
In order to focus on this issue, McCain originally called for a postponement of Friday’s debate. But now that Obama has said he wants the debate to go on and the public, at least in early polls, seems to agree, what should McCain do? Well, he certainly shouldn’t advocate for the postponement of the Vice Presidential debate as he has suggested. What he needs to do, is this: attend the debate on Friday and work around the clock before and after to advocate for changes to the bailout plan that make it more palatable, i.e., caps on executive compensation, lower capital gains and corporate taxes, more oversight, etc. If he does both and succeeds in getting a bill passed, he won’t take any flack for postponing the debate and can take credit for yet another bipartisan effort in the face of one of this country’s worst financial crises. Then he can also make the argument that he put the country first while Obama put his campaign above the needs of the American people. Now that McCain has made the offer, he can keep the moral highground while still attending the debate — “I wanted to postpone the debate momentarily to come to a resolution on how to handle this crisis not because I wanted to avoid a debate but because it would show the American people that we could work together on something so important. But since Obama could not agree to do the same, I will work tirelessly on the legislation by day and on the weekend and still make time for the debate.”
With that, he can hold on to his argument that he puts the country first, put to rest any argument that he wasn’t prepared for or was afraid of the debates and show that he, unlike Obama, can work on important issues with people from both parties.