Obama Follows

25Sep08

The first phase of McCain’s new emergency strategy appears to be working.

Injecting a jolt of new drama into the U.S. presidential race, Republican John McCain on Wednesday said he was temporarily suspending his campaign in a bid to help break a deadlock on Capitol Hill over the White House’s proposed $700-billion bailout of Wall Street.

His decision Wednesday to do something bold and to link his campaign more strongly to the bailout legislation preceded a speech by President Bush last night, created a VP style media drama over what will happen to the debate Friday night, and forced Barack to dance along to his lead.

The move came on a dramatic day that ended with President George W. Bush making a rare prime-time televised address, warning that the “serious financial crisis” is putting the “entire economy . . . in danger.”

Mr. Bush warned that if action was not taken soon, “America could slip into a financial panic and a distressing scenario would unfold.”

McCain is now front and center on the attempts in congress to hammer out emergency legislation. And he and Barack got to put out their joint statement.

With debate in Congress over the proposed rescue package at an impasse, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said late Wednesday he would join Mr. McCain for an emergency meeting with Bush and leaders of Congress Thursday at the White House.

“This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country,” Messrs. Obama and McCain said in a joint statement. “We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.”

The real potential exists for McCain to look, once again, like the guy capable of going beyond looking presidential, and actually acting presidential in a time of crisis.

But while both candidates were putting their campaigns on hold, Mr. Obama rejected Mr. McCain’s request for a scheduled presidential debate on Friday to be postponed while they worked jointly on the financial crisis.

Mr. Obama, who has been campaigning in Florida, said he agreed to return to Washington after Bush phoned with an invitation for the impromptu White House summit.

If this thing drags on another 24 hours, Barack could end up in a pickle over what to do about tomorrow night, with his campaign stuck in high profile reaction mode. But if it resolves quickly, McCain may not have been in Washington long enough to create a sense of linkage between his actions and the final legislation.

Democrats are doing their best to make McCain seem irrelevant.

Moments after Bush spoke on Wednesday, powerful Democrat Rep. Barney Frank said a bailout bill would pass.

“Earlier today, it became clear to me we would get the votes to pass this bill,” Frank, who is chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, told CNBC.



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