In one of the most startling developments of the 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain this afternoon said he wants the first presidential debate delayed so Congress can hunker down and finish the bailout bill before the markets open next Monday.
This interesting news comes on the heels of the latest ABC-Washington Post poll showing that McCain - who admits the economy is a mystery to him - now trails Barack Obama by 9 percent overall and by double-digit margins on the economy. (Independents now give Obama a whopping 21-point lead when asked which candidate is best equipped to deal with the economy.
The financial crisis was more than a decade in the making. We all need to wonder: What's the rush? And also: What does this say about John McCain's ability to handle multiple demands on his energy?
Update: The Obama campaign says the debate is still on. Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief debate negotiator, told MSNBC that "we can handle both."
Update, Thursday morning: It became clear yesterday that Barack Obama, not John McCain, was the one who first suggested some sort of joint statement on the economy. From the Los Angeles Times: "The day's head-spinning events began about 8:30 a.m. on the East Coast, when Obama, who was campaigning in Florida, called McCain in New York to suggest that the two rivals reach agreement on a joint statement of principles for any Wall Street bailout." (More here.)
Meanwhile, the two candidates will go to the White House later today and meet with President Bush and Congressional leaders. As of 9 a.m. MST, Congress is reportedly nearing a deal that would include more protections for taxpayers than originally proposed in the Bush-Paulson plan. McCain is still maintaining today that he'll skip Friday's debate if a deal hasn't been hammered out.