Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Wednesday that he decided to suspend his presidential campaign in light of the economic crisis. He wants to return to Washington, D.C. to discuss the $700 billion bailout plan. In addition to delaying visits to critical battleground states and refraining from airing election commercials, McCain has also suggested that the first presidential debate scheduled for Friday should be postponed. Calling on Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to join him in Congress to address the highly contested proposal, McCain hopes to form a quick consensus on legislation to keep the economy from unraveling. The Miami Student editorial board commends McCain’s decision to return to the Capitol; however, we argue that it is a critical time for American voters to hear the two presidential candidates debate Friday.
By returning to Congress, McCain could be a crucial voice in trying to settle on a bipartisan agreement. Both sides of Congress appear to be hesitant about the proposal prepared by the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Barnanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. While neither McCain nor Obama have confirmed whether they agree with the administration’s proposal, their vote could influence interaction across party lines. While some have sharply criticized McCain’s announcement claiming it to be a stunt or photo-opp, others have hailed his decision as a proven leader. Despite the criticism, McCain and Obama’s first job-not running a campaign but fulfilling the duties of an elected government official-demands that they should be present to vote when the nation is facing an economic crisis.
Nevertheless, the job of the U.S. president does not halt when a disaster strikes-it’s a job that involves multi-tasking and balancing national and international debacles while trying to maintain stability at home. In a time when every American citizen’s wallet might be affected, it is essential for the two candidates-on the brink of inheriting the presidency-to be accessible to voters and answer their questions. Obama and McCain can be in Washington to discuss the Fed’s bill and should remain on schedule for their debate.
This is not the time for the presidential candidates to abstain on a decisive bill that could set a precedent and affect every taxpayer. Accordingly, both senators should return to Washington putting presidential politics aside and embrace the opportunity to urge Congress to reach an agreement. However, returning to Washington should not be an excuse to delay the presidential debate. Obama and McCain must fulfill their obligations as senators and then speak to the American people in Friday’s forum as scheduled.