Despite his call earlier this week to postpone Friday night’s first presidential debate, aides to GOP nominee John McCain announced the senator will participate.
On Wednesday, McCain announced that he would not debate Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama unless Congress and financial leaders had reached a deal on the federal financial bailout by Friday evening.
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said Friday morning the Arizona senator 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.”
Since the request earlier this week from McCain to possibly postpone the debate, Obama has insisted that he will participate. “It’s going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once,” Obama said Thursday.
President Bush met Thursday with congressional and financial leaders to negotiate a possible $700 billion federal bailout package, but the deal was met by opposition from some Republicans concerned about the government spending so much to buy failing mortgages from distressed Wall Street firms.
Despite Thursday’s impasse, McCain’s confidence in reaching a deal was also supported by President Bush. On Friday morning, he told reporters, “we are going to get a package passed,” the New York Times reported.
“We will rise to the occasion,” the president added, expressing confidence that “Republicans and Democrats will come together and pass a substantial rescue plan.”
McCain’s aides pointed out in their statement that Obama was an early supporter of the proposed package, and McCain sought a more solid bipartisan agreement.
“Barack Obama’s priority was political posturing in his opening monologue defending the package as it stands,” the statement read. “John McCain listened to all sides so he could help focus the debate on finding a bipartisan resolution that is in the interest of taxpayers and homeowners.”
The subject of the debate, which will be held in Oxford, Miss., and moderated by The NewsHour’s Jim Lehrer, will likely shift to focus more on the country’s troubled economy despite the pre-planned theme of foreign policy.