Local party leaders weigh in on McCain's suspension of campaign, skipping debate

Will the first Presidential debate go on tomorrow night as scheduled? Senator Barack Obama says yes, with or without rival Senator John McCain.

But McCain has said he will not debate unless an agreement has been made on the $700 billion economic bailout. KLTV 7's Courtney Lane met with local politicians who weigh-in on both candidates' political moves.

The bi-partisan White House meeting, which included both candidates, just wrapped-up. And the stage is set at Ole' Miss University. But will McCain show for this first debate? Republican Senator Kevin Eltife remains optimistic.

"As far as delaying the debate, I don't really see that that's necessary quite honestly....I think by the time the sun sets tomorrow, Friday, they'll be close to having a deal put together."

The Smith County Democratic Party says McCain's decision shows that he can't juggle the duties of Commander In Chief.

"If you're in that position you've got to be able to handle more things than one and if McCain can't debate the issues and continue running and address the issues of the moment than he should not be running for President," said David Henderson.

But Eltife says McCain's stance put needed pressure on Washington to reach a decision on the bailout plan.

"The fact that he suspended the campaign and is going to Washington, I think it sends a clear signal to the Republicans in Washington we need a deal...I'm glad he did it. I think maybe he should even have done it sooner."

Eltife says both candidates did the right thing by putting politics aside and focusing on the financial crisis, which he believes to be very serious.

"The credit markets are frozen. I know a lot of people don't understand that. You can't get credit and it's going to have a serious impact on this economy," said Eltife.

Both say they hope the debate topic turns from foreign policy to this economic downslide.

"Let them talk about the economy and what measures the Bush Administration has taken and what their positions are on those positions, that would be the logical thing to do," said Henderson.

Both presidential candidates sat down with the President on Thursday to discuss the bailout, but there's still no word from the McCain camp on whether he'll attend the debate.

Courtney Lane, reporting. clane@kltv.com