Sen. John McCain announced he will participate in tonight’s presidential candidate debate, going head-to-head with Sen. Barack Obama at the University of Mississippi.
This morning, the senator stood his ground on plans not to attend the debate, his decision hinging upon the outcome of negotiations for the government bailout of Wall Street as the nation faces financial crisis. By this afternoon, it was apparent that he was confident that progress had been made during Captitol Hill talks on the $700 billion plan.
“Sen. McCain has spent the morning talking to members of the [Bush] administration, members of the Senate, and members of the House,” his campaign released in a statement. “He is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations, including Rep. [Roy] Blunt [of Missouri] as a designated negotiator for House Republicans. The McCain campaign is resuming all activities and the senator will travel to the debate this afternoon. “
Sen. Barack Obama had said he would attend the debate despite McCain’s announcement of suspending his campaign activities. His plans were in line with the United States Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) which said the debate would go on.
“At this point, my strong sense is that the best thing that I can do, rather than to inject presidential politics into these delicate negotiations, is to go down to Mississippi and explain to the American people what is going on and my vision for leading the country over the next four years,” Obama told reporters aboard his campaign plane traveling to Mississippi, the Associated Press reports.
Debate planners at Ole Miss, who were reportedly taken aback by McCain’s initial push for delays, continue preparing for the debate, which is set to begin at 9 p.m. ET and be televised on several major networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, CNN, and MSNBC, among others.
Here is a breakdown of what tonight’s debate at the University of Mississippi will consist of:
The main topics will be foreign policy and national security. Political observers say that in the midst of the the firestorm that is the bailout negotiations, the economy is likely to be an issue the candidates will infuse into the debate. It will be broken into nine, nine-minute segments. The moderator, Jim Lehrer, will introduce a topic and allow each candidate two minutes to comment. After the candidates’ initial answers, the moderator will facilitate an open discussion of the topic for the remaining five minutes, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment.
Janell Hazelwood is a copy editor and reporter for BlackEnterprise.com.