The Campaign Suspension, and the News We’re Missing Because of It

Citing Eric Rauchway, Matthew Yglesias notes three other September 24’s in which campaigns were not suspended:

— September 24, 1864: The nation is literally at risk of collapse, mengaged in a large-scale civil war: Yet the campaign for the presidency was “now being prosecuted with the utmost vigor,” as one could read in the New York Times.”

— September 24, 1932: The nation is mired in Depression, coping with it a full time job, “Yet Herbert Hoover prepared to give a large speech in Iowa and Franklin Roosevelt had just given what became a famous address to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.”

— September 24, 1944: World War II well under way, with the United States engaged in fierce fighting, “Yet President Roosevelt had just officially launched his campaign for a fourth term, while Thomas Dewey took his turn speaking in San Francisco, challenging Roosevelt’s supremacy.”

I fail to see what about this particular crisis required McCain to drop everything about the campaign. (Except, of course, for his speech tonight at the Clinton Global Initiative. And the Sarah Palin rally this afternoon.) Negotiations over legislation aren’t stalled–they’re moving apace. It’s expected to be done by the end of the weekend. Both McCain and Obama would be wiser to stay out of it so that Presidential politics doesn’t get embroiled into things, but I guess it’s too late for that now.

Now, John McCain’s decision to “suspend his campaign” is sucking up a lot of media oxygen, so here’s a few things you might have missed because of all the media attention of McCain’s move. Things that, you know, might be worth talking about in some sort of forum where both presidential candidates are answering questions:

  • The auto industry is being bailed out to the tune of $25 billion. Which depressingly seems like chump change. Apparently the industry was only looking for $6 billion initially, but decided that in light of recent events, that was too small an amount to be taken seriously, so they hiked their request to the highest the law allowed.
  • The press-elusive Sarah Palin gave an interview with Katie Couric last night. Her defense of John McCain’s history of regulating the financial industry was a bit, um, lacking.

    Couric: I’m just going to ask you one more time – not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

    Palin: I’ll try to find you some and I’ll bring them to you.

  • The NIE Assessment of Afghanistan will not be declassified before the election because its contents are apparently “grim”:

    Officials say a draft of the classified NIE, representing the key judgments of the US intelligence community’s 17 agencies and departments, is being circulated in Washington and a final “coordination meeting” of the agencies involved, under the direction of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is scheduled in the next few weeks.

    According to people who have been briefed, the NIE will paint a “grim” picture of the situation in Afghanistan, seven years after the US invaded in an effort to dismantle the al Qaeda network and its Taliban protectors.

Between bailouts, Afghanistan, corrpution and other things, I don’t see how McCain can justify refusing to debate issues with his opponent. According to an instant poll taken by Survey USA yesterday, Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of not postponing the debate–only 10% of those surveyed thought it was necessary.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Economics and Business, Intelligence, National Security, , , , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. jeff b says:

    Don’t worry Alex, the credulous dupes who normally haunt these comments sections will come up with some whoppers to cover for McCain.

    I heard he suspended his campaign so he could fly to Germany and shout “fire” from the floor of the Reichstag.

  2. anjin-san says:

    I fail to see what about this particular crisis required McCain to drop everything about the campaign.

    Take a look at polling since the crisis broke, the answer is self-evident.

  3. Scout says:

    -‘The press-elusive Sarah Palin gave an interview with Katie Couric last night. Her defense of John McCain’s history of regulating the financial industry was a bit, um, lacking.’
    Initially, her answer was, umm, NOT lacking. She correctly pointed out that McCain had tried to get legislation through in 2005 to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It was only after Couric’s continual badgering and asking the same question 4 times, that Palin said she’d get back to her. If Couric had asked the same of Obama,…wait, that would be a big ZERO, crickets chirping,etc., because the great one has no record, but I digress. Palin SHOULD HAVE said something like this,: ‘Katie, I have answered your question. The only example you need is the one that is GERMAIN to THIS issue. John McCain was the voice of reason in 2005 with meaningful legislation that was blatantly downplayed and misrepresented by none other than Barney Frank”.
    This is just another example of ‘gotcha journalism’. Sick of it, I am.

  4. sam says:

    The press-elusive Sarah Palin gave an interview with Katie Couric last night. Her defense of John McCain’s history of regulating the financial industry was a bit, um, lacking.

    See the thing about Sarah is that she’s got weightier things on her mind, like witchcraft. And the McCain campaign, since they’ve known about this from the beginning because of the extensive vetting of Palin, are planning a Halloween surprise that promises to break the race wide open. I don’t think it will involve broomsticks and cauldrons, but we all know what an impulsive imp John can be. So, hold on to your hats folks.

  5. Anderson says:

    If Couric had asked the same of Obama,…wait, that would be a big ZERO, crickets chirping,etc.

    You might care to “scout out” the fact that it’s McCain, not Obama, running on a claim of a reforming record.

    Note Couric’s question:

    COURIC: You’ve said, quote, “John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business.” Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more examples of his leading the charge for more oversight?

    How was Palin not ready for that question?

    It’s like the next show she needs to appear on is Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, where at least she’ll have a “lifeline” she can use.

  6. anjin-san says:

    Poor Palin, getting roughed up by Katie Couric. If she can’t handle cream puff interviews, I wonder how she will do with Putin…

  7. Floyd says:

    Imagine how different the news would be if Obama had decided , for the first time in his political career,to take ONE day out to do his job?
    Personally, were all a little better off if he does continue to campaign, the only thing he knows. [as long as Axelrod provides the script!]

  8. PD Shaw says:

    September 24, 1864: . . . the campaign for the presidency was “now being prosecuted with the utmost vigor,”

    I don’t believe that. I don’t think Lincoln gave one speech when he ran for office in 1860. Not sure about 1864, but candidates simply did not run these sorts of non-stop campaigns.

  9. Alex, please. A debate deferred is not a debate denied.

    As the guy who is down in the polls I’m certain Senator McCain will still take all the debates he can get, at least until he thinks he is in the lead.

  10. anjin-san says:

    A debate deferred is not a debate denied

    Except that part of McCain’s strategy is to use the deferment as an excuse to cancel the VP debate. Understandable, given Palin’s performance thus far.

  11. Triumph says:

    I fail to see what about this particular crisis required McCain to drop everything about the campaign.

    The truth is that the guy is lazy, a coward and a lightweight who can’t handle more than one “issue” at a time.

  12. Wayne says:

    “Negotiations over legislation aren’t stalled—they’re moving apace” Not true.

    As I recalled the bailout was stalled in congress. The deal may now be jar loose but it was stall at the time McCain decision.
    http://www.buffalonews.com/180/story/446693.html

    http://www.forbes.com/home/2008/09/24/bailout-bush-congress-biz-beltway-cx_bw_0924bush.html

    The examples given of when campaigns were not suspended is pretty lame. Those were all long term issues that require long term efforts not immediate actions. If 911 happen during an election year, surely you wouldn’t suggest the campaigns to continue on as normal on 912. Should they continue? Yes but in due time.

  13. anjin-san says:

    McCain Didn’t Even Read Treasury Proposal

    Though Sen. John McCain says the nation’s current financial crisis requires “all hands on deck” because “the whole future of the American economy is in danger,” he admitted in an interview in Cleveland on Tuesday that he hadn’t even read the Bush administration’s proposed rescue plan that was unveiled over the weekend.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnsNOEgp-_o

    Yes but in due time

    You mean when McCain’s numbers improve?

  14. Jack Bauer says:

    It’s going to be funny when McCain exits the White House today.

    He’s going to declare that he is now satisfied so much progress has been made, that they should indeed debate Friday. One caveat, given the crisis it is only logical that it has to be on the economy.

    Watching Doofus “Teleprompter” Obama try to wriggle out of that one is going to be fun.

    Remember Barry — your Axelrod RF transmissions are going to be jammed by GOP operatives in the hall. So the only voices in your empty head are going to be your own

    OBAMA/BIDEN… UMMM & DUMBER.

  15. Michael says:

    Both McCain and Obama would be wiser to stay out of it so that Presidential politics doesn’t get embroiled into things

    This is a curious meme to me. Is it a variation of the “War is too important a business to be left to Generals”? I mean, seriously, we’re saying that it’s better for the future President to not be involved with what will most likely be the single biggest factor in his economic policy.

  16. Michael says:

    He’s going to declare that he is now satisfied so much progress has been made, that they should indeed debate Friday. One caveat, given the crisis it is only logical that it has to be on the economy.

    Watching Doofus “Teleprompter” Obama try to wriggle out of that one is going to be fun.

    You can mock his teleprompter skills all you want, but you can’t deny that Obama is a smart guy. He’s been practicing for a debate on the economy this Friday for at least a week.

  17. Jack Bauer says:

    I wonder which VP pick said this week the President should go on TV to address the nation just like FDR did in 1929.

    OBAMA/BIDEN… UMMM & DUMBER

    For all the benefit of all the ill-educated Biden liberals who don’t know much about history: FDR wasn’t President in 1929; and the world’s first TV broadcast (by the BBC) was seven years in the future.

    Gosh. Democrat VPs say the darndest things.

  18. Jack Bauer says:

    He’s a dummy, who can’t speak coherently sans teleprompter.

    I am not “mocking” his teleprompter skills – I’m mocking the Obambi deer in the headlights when it goes down.

    And he’s been “practising” for the “foreign policy” debate on Friday.

  19. Wayne says:

    “You mean when McCain’s numbers improve?”

    Usually the one that is behind wants a debate. McCain is unusual since he has wanted more debates not only when he has been behind but also when he has been ahead.

    Why won’t Obama agree to weekly debates? If debates are so important why not have more?

  20. Jack Bauer says:

    Why won’t Obama agree to weekly debates? If debates are so important why not have more?

    The Obama doesn’t debate. The Obama just is. Follow the Obama.

    I hear the new Omama campaign theme tune is that classic Blondie track: “Don’t Keep Me Hangin’ on the Telephone…”

  21. Anderson says:

    Oh yeah, like McCain *really wants* to debate about financial policy this Friday, without serious prep.

    Not his strong point, people.

    N.b. that what appears to bother y’all about how Obama talks w/o Teleprompter … those pauses, those moments where he seems to be concentrating on something?

    That’s called “thinking.” It’s a big reason why we support Obama over McCain. Because McCain doesn’t do much of that.

  22. Michael says:

    And he’s been “practising” for the “foreign policy” debate on Friday.

    He’s been practicing alright, but I’m sure he’s been practicing for an economics debate every bit as much as for a foreign policy debate. I’m sure McCain had also been practicing for an economics debate. Whether that assumption had anything to do with has decision to skip it, I don’t know, but I doubt it.

  23. Michael says:

    Why won’t Obama agree to weekly debates? If debates are so important why not have more?

    Sugar is important in your diet, why not have more? At some point “more debates” stop adding value and start subtracting it.

    Going back over the last 2 Presidential elections, after the first few debates it’s just a rehash of the same questions with the same answers, the only new stuff is whatever attack angle/talking point the campaigns are using at the time.

  24. Wayne says:

    Michael
    “At some point “more debates” stop adding value”

    True but three debates are below that value. Especially if we had non scripted debates where you have real people asking any question they like. The problem I have is many of the lefties are claiming McCain doesn’t want any sugar(debates) when he has been and still do want great deal more sugar(debates).

    I have answer why not delaying the debate can be harmful. No one has stated why delaying the debate would be.

  25. Michael says:

    True but three debates are below that value.

    Just like with sugar, it depends on the quality.

    Especially if we had non scripted debates where you have real people asking any question they like.

    I do prefer those debates. But you can’t put a time limit on the answers in that situation.

    The problem I have is many of the lefties are claiming McCain doesn’t want any sugar(debates) when he has been and still do want great deal more sugar(debates).

    I haven’t seen anybody claiming that, but maybe I’m just not looking. I have seen people claim that McCain doesn’t want a debate on the economy just now, but as I’ve already said, I doubt that’s his reason for skipping it.

    I have answer why not delaying the debate can be harmful.

    Where? I missed it.

    No one has stated why delaying the debate would be.

    It’s not that delaying would be harmful, it’s that it would be a missed opportunity to put the different proposals on display, and defend them before the public.

  26. anjin-san says:

    I have answer why not delaying the debate can be harmful

    Not really. We are very close to a deal on the bailout. McCain’s attempts to cast himself as Atlas, taking the economy on his shoulders are a joke, especially considering that 10 days ago he said the economy was sound and 2 days ago he had not read Paulson’s proposal.

    This is not McCain’s first pass at using a crisis or disaster as a photo-op.

  27. anjin-san says:

    Usually the one that is behind wants a debate. McCain is unusual since he has wanted more debates

    This is not correct. McCain wanted town hall meetings, not debates.

  28. Dude says:

    McCain has a habit of bluffing. He wants these town hall meetings, but only to make it look like Obama doesn’t. I think Obama should have called his bluff and agreed to them.

    McCain would have been suspending his campaign weekly.

  29. Dude says:

    Oh, and McCain still hasn’t suspended his campaign. His people are still out doing the talk show circuit.

  30. Michael says:

    Oh, and McCain still hasn’t suspended his campaign. His people are still out doing the talk show circuit.

    When McCain said he would suspend his campaign, he specifically said he would be doing so after his speech today.

  31. Michael says:

    McCain has a habit of bluffing. He wants these town hall meetings, but only to make it look like Obama doesn’t. I think Obama should have called his bluff and agreed to them.

    McCain probably really wants the town hall meetings, because he’s better at that kind of off-the-cuff discussion and can get people to relate to him. Obama is not nearly as good at either, which is why he proposed more formal, moderated debates, because he’s better at that than McCain.

  32. Wayne says:

    Michael
    “Where? I missed it.”

    My bad, that was on the other thread on this topic which you and anjin have been writing to also.

    Anjin
    “This is not correct. McCain wanted town hall meetings, not debates.”

    What is the major difference besides format? The second schedule debate is actually a town hall format.

    The differences in formats include one of them having reporters asking questions of the two candidates and the other has an “ordinary person” asking the questions. One is on a specific subject the other is on a wide variety of subjects.

  33. Michael says:

    What is the major difference besides format? The second schedule debate is actually a town hall format.

    The differences in formats include one of them having reporters asking questions of the two candidates and the other has an “ordinary person” asking the questions. One is on a specific subject the other is on a wide variety of subjects.

    The difference is in the topic and scope of the questions, and the type of answers that work best. It’s the difference between a technical interview, and a personality interview.

  34. Wayne says:

    Dude
    Get a clue. McCain suspending his campaign means he personally won’t be out actively campaigning. It doesn’t mean all his campaign staff and organization close up shop and go home. When Obama suspend his campaign on 911 or took a break to go to Hawaii, his staff and organization still continue to work.

  35. Wayne says:

    Michael
    You’re not claiming a town hall format debate isn’t a debate are you?

    .

  36. Michael says:

    You’re not claiming a town hall format debate isn’t a debate are you?

    Sorry, I thought we were all on the same page with our use of terms. Technically neither format we’re likely to see is a “debate” in the way the word is used in any other discussion.

    But, if we are going to call the mostly scripted, third party moderated events “debates”, then I also consider the town hall formats a “debate”. The distinction I was trying to make was in the formality of the questions and answers, not in the terms “debate” and “town hall”.

  37. anjin-san says:

    I think this thread has run its course. There is a bailout deal, no help from McCain was required. He may still try and use the actual vote for his own political gain.

    Candidate First, Country Second.

  38. just me says:

    You might care to “scout out” the fact that it’s McCain, not Obama, running on a claim of a reforming record.

    And what exactly does “hope and change mean?”

    Also, one of the few pieces of legislation with Obama’s name on it since he took office in the senate is the ethics reform bill.

    As for the McCain doing his job-I think that looks good-but is congress actually going to be in session tomorrow night hammering this out? I doubt it, so while going to DC to work on the bill is one thing, I think most would see skipping the debate as something very different.

    I think McCain will do better than expected and Obama will do worse-I think Obama talks too much and trips himself up too much. McCain is much better at the sound bite-even if it is meaningless.

  39. sam says:

    @ P.D.Shaw

    I don’t think Lincoln gave one speech when he ran for office in 1860.

    PD, google “lincoln speech 1860” — one of his most famous speeches was the Cooper Union Address in February 1860; he gave an important speech in New Haven, Connecticut on March 6, 1860 on slavery. I’m sure there were more.

  40. Dude says:

    Wayne,

    Little dude. McCain announced that he was going to stop all campaigning and mentioned pulling TV ads, etc. He meant that his entire team was gonna stop campaigning. And they haven’t. And they won’t. Business as usual for McCain.

  41. G.A.Phillips says:

    Imagine how different the news would be if Obama had decided , for the first time in his political career,to take ONE day out to do his job?
    Personally, were all a little better off if he does continue to campaign, the only thing he knows. [as long as Axelrod provides the script!]

    lol, all he has to do is fly in vote present then fly out, how hard is it? he does it all the time.
    Dang it ain’t like he has to take a test how many states we have or something hard like that.

  42. Grewgills says:

    It is imperative that McCain lend his vast economic knowledge to solving this crisis. His clear thinking and visionary ideas like, “I’m glad that whenever they cut interest rates. I wish interest rates were zero,” will help get us right back on track.

  43. Wayne says:

    The term debate has been use as it is generally apply to Presidential election. Anjin said “McCain wanted town hall meetings, not debates.” Many may say the Presidential debates are not truly “debates”. However the use of the term should be consistent. To say that the plan presidential debates are debates but McCain’s request for more town hall meeting format debates are not debates is inconsistent. Especially since the second plan Presidential debate is a town hall meeting format.

    Dude
    Where did McCain say that he would stop all campaigning including all his organization? I guess you can’t understand that there a difference between personal campaigning and organizational campaigning.

  44. Michael says:

    The term debate has been use as it is generally apply to Presidential election. Anjin said “McCain wanted town hall meetings, not debates.”

    Probably Anjin-san just used those terms because “town hall” is well understood as a specific form of a debate, while there is no specific term for non-“town hall” style debates.

  45. Wayne says:

    If anjin thought that town hall was a form of debate then he sentence make no sense.

    “there is no specific term for non-“town hall” style debates”

    How about non-“town hall” style debates? That seems to work. As you should know by now, I’m very willing to overlook typos, bad grammar, and misstatements. When there is a lack of clarity, I ask for clarification. Anjin had a chance to clarify and he didn’t. It was quite apparent that he didn’t think town hall meeting debates are debates. Not to mention, McCain only said the town hall format was his preference not that he wouldn’t do any other form of debate. Personally I would also like to see the Lincoln\Douglass format as well.

  46. Jack Bauer says:

    More gaffes from the Gaffe Guzzling Democrat Vice Doofus pick. Not quite in Obama’s 57 states gaffe, but priceless none the less.

    Don’t know much about history? Trouble is Biden knows a hell of a lot about something that never even happened. This bodes so well for the debate.

    “After seven years, in which our senior diplomatic personnel were not allowed to make a single contact with Iranians, the Bush administration realized the absurdity of its own policy and sent our leading diplomat to Iran,” he said. “The Assistant Secretary of State as he went to Tehran, sat down at the instruction of the President of the United States.” . . .

    Trouble is, the event Biden described never actually happened.

    In fact, the one “meeting” that has taken place was in Geneva, Switzerland, when Under Secretary of State William Burns sat in on a discussion between Iranian representatives and the other “P5+1” political directors involved in nuclear talks. The meeting, while a first, was not a negotiation; Burns was there merely as an observer, and had no formal role or talks with the Iranians.

    So, apart from: Burns was not sent to Tehran; he did not go to Tehran; and there was no such instruction from the President; Biden’s well up to speed for his debate with Palin.

    How to Field Dress a Biden by Sarah Palin.

  47. anjin-san says:

    Wayne,

    I really have better things to do than explain the facts of life to you.

    Get informed:

    http://www.debates.org/

  48. Jack Bauer says:

    My OED defines the noun DEBATE as

    a formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward, and usually ends in a vote.

    What we have starting Friday, is a jazzed up Question and Answer session. It clearly has elements of the debating techniques, but it’s hardly a debate in that classical sense.

  49. Jack Bauer says:

    It is imperative that McCain lend his vast economic knowledge to solving this crisis. His clear thinking and visionary ideas like, “I’m glad that whenever they cut interest rates. I wish interest rates were zero,” will help get us right back on track.

    Almost as imperative as the community organizer Obama lending his vast Marxist knowledge to solving this crisis with his reactionary and failed socialist twitterings.

    Saul Alinsky was a Community Organizer too. Pity they never nailed him to a cross.

  50. PD Shaw says:

    PD, google “lincoln speech 1860” — one of his most famous speeches was the Cooper Union Address in February 1860

    I sort of stand corrected. What I meant was that Lincoln didn’t give overt campaign speeches or conduct debates. Cooper Union could be seen as an attempt by Lincoln to gain greater national recognition, but he’s not a candidate at the time. I suspect he thought it would help his forthcoming candidacy, but the prevailing norms required one to be aloof from obvious campaigning.

    Lincoln explained in the Summer of 1864 that “I do not really think it is proper in my position for me to make a political speech. . . and . . . being more of a politician than anything else, . . . I am without anything to say.”

    Different times.

  51. Grewgills says:

    Almost as imperative as the community organizer Obama

    So, you agree that McCain and Obama showing up would not help the situation, which makes McCain’s political grandstanding counterproductive. Glad we can agree on something.
    I do hope that McCain follows your advice and offers and economic debate in place of the national security debate this Friday.

  52. Jack Bauer says:

    Grawgills — quote my whole quote and I will answer your tedious opinion.

    Incidentally, starting a post with an erroneous assertion, plucked from your behind, that I “agree” with you, is a particularly sophomoric debating technique. Tsk, tsk.

  53. Dude says:

    Wayne,

    McCain hasn’t even stopped personal campaigning. He gave a speech in NY and has been giving campaigning interviews for the past few days. He looks like an ass in all of this.