McCain Suspends Campaign; Obama Responds

John McCain said he would suspend his campaign and return to Washington until a deal can be reached in Congress on the financial bailout. McCain also called for a delay of Friday's debate with Barack Obama. Obama said, however, he did not think the debate should be delayed.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And a lot of questions raised by this, the ball being put squarely in Barack Obama's court after that announcement. What did he have to say?

MARA LIASSON: Well, he spoke to the press today - rare press conference for him - and he said that he had spoken to McCain, and he wanted - he agreed that they would issue this joint statement talking about their shared principles for the bailout. But no, he does not think the debate should be delayed, which is what McCain is suggesting. He was asked a number of times whether he would do what McCain is doing, suspend his campaign and pull his ads off the air. He clearly does not want to do that. He said, let's be clear, Senator McCain is running his campaign. I'm running mine.

BLOCK: And the Commission on Presidential Debates says, as far as we know, these debates are on. We scheduled them, and they're on for Friday.

LIASSON: Yes. The debates are on. We just don't know who's going to be there.

BLOCK: Mara, this seems to be a lot about brinkmanship here.

LIASSON: Well, it is. And I think it is McCain, once again, showing how tactical he can be. All of a sudden, he's driving the news. He's certainly dominated the entire afternoon. He wants to show that he can act quickly in a crisis, show leadership, shake up the race, maybe put Obama on the defensive, try to show that he's above politics. The question really is, is this a political stunt, or will this work the way he may intend it to?

It really doesn't matter if Obama or McCain are in Washington. They've missed so many votes. Neither of them are on the relevant committees. And you know, the question is, where is this going? And in the end, if Obama is not willing to agree to suspend the debate - and I think the McCain campaign knows that he would never do that - will McCain show up in Mississippi or not?

BLOCK: On Friday, OK. NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson. Mara, thanks a lot.

LIASSON: Thank you, Melissa.

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