By Matthew Stolle

Will the presidential debate go ahead on Friday?

Republican nominee John McCain on Wednesday asked to delay the debate, and he suspended his campaign to return to Washington to work on the proposed $700 billion bailout for Wall Street. Democratic rival Barack Obama said the debate shouldn’t be delayed and continued preparing for it.

Debate planners said they were continuing to prepare for the event at the University of Mississippi.


Whether it’s partisanship or patriotism that motivated McCain depends on who you ask.

Area Democrats generally saw it as a stunt, a bit of posturing by a Republican in a hard-fought race. Local Republicans saw it as another example of McCain’s willingness to put country before politics.

Lynn Wilson, chairwoman of the Olmsted County DFL Party, said McCain was using the crisis to avoid a critical debate and said it showed an "appalling disrespect to the American people" by reducing politics to diversions.

"This discussion should be brought into the living rooms of the American people. It is affecting their lives. To suspend or cancel the debate on Friday night is nothing short of selling short the American people," she said.

But an area Republican said the decision was reminiscent of McCain’s support last year for a troop surge in Iraq at a time when the war was going poorly.

"It shows that he’s really putting America’s financial and economic goals ahead of his campaign, because I’m sure his campaign manager is going crazy," said Rebecca Smith, co-chair of the Olmsted County Republican Party.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain’s representative in debate negotiations, said McCain will not attend the debate "unless there is an agreement that would provide a solution" to the financial crisis.

Asked whether the debate could go forward if McCain doesn’t show, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "My sense is there’s going to be a stage, a moderator, an audience and at least one presidential candidate."


The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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