It started with Senator Biden making a very strong foreign policy speech that would have led the news cycle. McCain deftly parried it by suspending his campaign so that all the lobbyists on his campaign staff he could race back to Washington to shape the bailout legislation. He cancelled his appearance on Letterman but managed to keep his meeting with Lady Lynn Forster de Rotshschild and be interviewed by Katie Couric. Letterman of course picked up the CBS feed from the other studio and mocked him unmercifully.
He then proposed that Friday’s foreign policy debate be postponed until the financial crisis makes its way through Congress. The attempt to cage Obama into either giving McCain a pass or looking like a political opportunist falls flat when Obama politely suggests that a President ought to be able to do more than one thing at a time.
SurveyUSA did a snap poll that showed 83% of voters wanted the debate to continue, only 14% supported delaying it. Perhaps if McCain’s campaign hadn’t spent the previous two days in a shooting war with the media, they might have given him the benefit of the doubt on how “statesmanlike” the move was. Instead, it played like a ploy, a gimmick, a stunt. Even the NRO bloggers admitted that Obama sounded “reasonable.”
Then he was more or less forced to issue a joint statement with Obama on the economic crisis, which, in order to keep some daylight between himself and Bush, essentially was written by the Obama strategy team and reflected the proposal of the Democratic Congress. Not much opportunity to be a maverick there.
And the long day wore on.
Viewers of his press conference and Couric interviewed noticed his left eye was almost swollen shut, the same region of his face where he had undergone surgery for a benign melanoma six years ago. This caused instant speculation that the campaign was being suspended for health reasons.
Finally, as the sun set over Colorado, a McCain staffer emailed the daily talking points to the working press instead of the volunteer corps. The cover page noted “Please do not proactively reach out to the media on this.”
But it was all OK in the end. At politico.com’s GameDay, Alexander Burns declared the day “a tie.”