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Obama: Debate should go on

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones

Clearwater, Fla. -- Despite McCain's call for a delay of the debate until a deal on the bailout was done, Obama said he thought the debate should go on and that it was more important than ever for the candidates to present themselves to the American people and talk about where they want to take the country.

Video: Sen. Barack Obama agreed with John McCain on the need to work together to rescue the finance industry, but says he's not halting his campaign, and would like to go ahead with the presidential debate.

Obama described his conversation with McCain this afternoon at about 2:30 as "cordial." He said McCain mentioned the idea of delaying the debate, but Obama said he believed that he mulling over the idea -- not that he had already decided. At 2:55 p.m., McCain's campaign sent out its candidate's prepared remarks which called for the suspension and delay of the debate. Minutes later, McCain was on television.

During the news conference, Obama added that he was in constant contact with the Congressional leadership in Washington and with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and was available to go anywhere he could be helpful. He also said his sense was that it would be important for both he and McCain to be present to vote on the bill. 

Obama added that a president is expected do be able to "multi task" -- that a president is going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time and can't do only one thing and suspend everything else.

He said his staff and McCain's were still discussing a joint statement saying there should be a bipartisan solution to bailout. And he said the economic stimulus and changes to bankruptcy laws should not be stuffed into the bailout legislation.

More to come...