Stephanopoulos: McCain Will Attend Debate Tonight

By Julia Hoppock

Sep 26, 2008 11:24am

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos reports: Republican presidential nominee John McCain will attend the debate tonight in Mississippi.  The McCain campaign issued a statement saying that they are "resuming all activities and the Senator will travel to the debate this afternoon."

In the statement, the campaign said that "McCain is optimistic that there has been significant progress," on the bailout deal, citing the return of House GOP members to the negotiating table.

But they also took a jab at Obama, accusing him of playing politics and impeding progress on the deal.

"The difference between Barack Obama and John McCain was apparent during the White House meeting yesterday where Barack Obama’s priority was political posturing in his opening monologue defending the package as it stands.  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 campaign characterized the heated negotiations as a "familiar spectacle in Washington" and urged Congress and the Bush administration to work together on an agreement.

"Both parties in both houses of Congress and the administration needed to come together to find a solution that would deserve the trust of the American people.  And while there were attempts to do that, much of yesterday was spent fighting over who would get the credit for a deal and who would get the blame for failure."

The statement also said the McCain would return to Washington after the debate to continue working on the final agreement.   

Earlier today a top GOP official indicated that Sen. McCain would likely debate tonight because Republicans had moved closer to an agreement on the framework of an economic bailout deal.

On Wednesday, McCain announced he was suspending his presidential campaign to fly to Washington and concentrate on resolving the bailout plan.  When asked on World News Thursday night if he planned to attend the debate, McCain said he was "hopeful" he would be able to.

"I believe that it’s very possible that we can get an agreement so that I have time to fly to Mississippi," McCain told Charlie Gibson. 

Obama, for his part, has said all week that he would attend tonight’s debate, regardless of the status of the economic bailout plan. 

The debate will be moderated by PBS’ Jim Lehrer and held on the University of Mississippi’s campus in Oxford, Miss.  Although foreign policy was scheduled to be the focus of the debate, Lehrer has indicated he may incorporate the latest economic news into the discussion.

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