NBC's Doug Adams points out that Obama misspoke and said that under his plan 95% don't pay higher tax cuts not that 95% get tax cuts.
NBC's Doug Adams points out that Obama misspoke and said that under his plan 95% don't pay higher tax cuts not that 95% get tax cuts.
McCain is delivering his standard lines about cutting pork barrel spending and eliminating earmarks; Obama's responding with a call for oversight and reform.
McCain's is the message that tests more strongly with voters. The latest NBC/WSJ poll showed that respondents prefer "a president who will go in and clean up Washington and take on the waste and fraud in the system" to "a president who will end the Bush administration policies, and have active government oversight.." by a margin of 67 to 29 percent.
From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
McCain goes after Obama where he's comfortable -- on earmarks.
Obama fights back to point out that it only accounts for only $18 billion. "Eliminating earmarks alone" aren't going to help middle class, he said. Obama went after him on taxes (more on that later), McCain defends businesses because they create jobs.
McCain said earmarks account for more than $18 billion.
From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Both sounded as if they'd vote for a plan. Obama said he hadn't seen language but he has laid out his principles. McCain said "sure."
Not a bad line from Obama: "We need more responsibility, but not just when there's a crisis."
Lehrer tries to get them to address each other.
McCain jokes about his age: "You afraid I couldn't hear him."
McCain went back to spending and earmarks on how to improve the economy. Does Main Street buy it?
McCain defends his declaration that he'd axe SEC Chair Christopher Cox. "We've got to start holding people responsible..."
Obama responds that we do need more responsibility, "but not just when we're in a crisis."
From NBC's Chuck Todd and Domenico Montanaro
First most striking style difference.... Obama spoke to camera, McCain to Lehrer. Also, McCain seemed to spend more time attempting to explain the problem than Obama....
From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
McCain brought up Ted Kennedy who earlier was in the hopsital. McCain said he was currently in the hospital, but as NBC and others have reported, he's left the hospital.
From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
This economy note is the message Obama has been delivering on the stump all week. Important that he came out with a criticism of John McCain in first answer (And tied McCain directly to Bush.) Also interesting that McCain mentioned Kennedy and Obama didn't.
From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
No suprprise that the debate opens with the economy. Obama goes first. And not surprisingly, he outlines his six principles. Calls this "final verdict" on Bush's policies, "supported by McCain." First question, first shot.
From NBC's Kelly O'Donnell
Advisors earlier described Sen. McCain's mood right now saying....
"He's up. In a good mood, joking around with Lindsey." [Senator Lindsey Graham]
Hi all. NBC First Readers Domenico Montanaro in Oxford, MS, and Carrie Dann in Washington D.C. -- along with the rest of the NBC political unit and our campaign reporters on the road -- will be offering fact checks, analysis, and observations live during tonight's debate.
So stay tuned, fasten your seatbelts, and enjoy the first presidential debate.
From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
CUDAHY, Wisc. -- Alluding to tonight's debate, Biden argued that any discussion of foreign policy needs to include supporting first responders, promising a strong federal partnership with local communities to ensure they are equipped to deal with a terrorist attack.
"I'm sick and tired of this neo-conservative malarkey that somehow the federal government doesn't have a responsibility to this local fire hall," Biden said, speaking to firefighters and others at this suburban Milwaukee fire station. "You're not the ones who can control the policy relating to whether or not there's another terrorist attack, but you're the ones who are gonna have to respond [to one]."
He called this a "big deal debate" over differing philosophies. McCain, he said, cares just as much as he and Obama do about protecting the homeland. But he said McCain has supported Bush administration efforts to cut local assistance.
"He votes against giving you the money," he said. "The president of the Untied States will not give you the money because philosophically he doesn't think it's a responsibility of the federal government. It is a local responsibility."
Biden, and his wife, Jill, who joined him this afternoon, both discussed their great personal affection for fire fighters, recounting personal emergencies in which they played a role.
"I guarantee you, in an Obama-Biden administration, firefighters and cops will be first on the list, not last on the list," Biden said.
Biden opened his remarks by joking that he was nervous about his status as Obama's running mate, after listening to a conference call with the campaign staff this morning. He said they discussed whether they constitutionally were allowed to swap him out for Ryan Braun, a Milwaukee Brewers outfielder who won a game for the team last night.
"I'd be willing to let him be vice president if he'd let me take credit for that Grand Slam, I tell ya," he said.
Biden will spend the rest of his day doing satellite interviews on behalf of the ticket, then watch the debate at his hotel with his wife. He'll then appear on network broadcasts after the debate to spin on his running mate's behalf.
In his latest entry over at iCue's Off Air blog, NBC's Luke Russert asks five big questions about tonight's debate. Here's a preview:
Will either Obama or McCain go for a knockout punch?
Usually when there are three debates, candidates hold back until the last debate because they don't want to say anything stupid or appear overbearing. Presidential debates are different because more people watch the first one than the other two. So this presents an interesting dilemma: both candidates have the biggest audience they may ever have tonight. They have the opportunity to showcase their abilities and to demonstrate why the other guy is wrong, but do they take advantage of that opportunity?
To read more of Luke's blog, visit Off Air here.
From NBC's Carrie Dann
With the stroke of a memo to the press this morning, the McCain campaign recommenced its campaign activities, including its television advertising nationwide.
But when did the ads come back?
According to one media buyer and advertising staff at two battleground state television stations, some stations were told yesterday afternoon that McCain's ads -- first suspended at 5:00 pm ET Wednesday afternoon -- could be recommenced starting today.
One rep firm says that the directive to put ads back on the air came at 1:00 pm ET yesterday, shortly after McCain landed in Washington and around the time that he arrived on Capitol Hill. Another station was cleared to start running the ads by "late morning" yesterday.
Those orders don't go directly from the campaign to TV stations. Instructions placed by the campaign go through an ad agency and then though the rep firms throughout the country that work with television stations to place advertisements on the air.
The recommencement may not be the same in all media markets. A sales executive at a Grands Rapids station says that he has received NO notice to put ads back on the air yet. (The already-paid-for spots that were pulled from the Michigan airwaves yesterday will air on Monday, he says.)
A television station in Richmond, VA, says that its order to take Mccain's ads off hold came today at 12:40 pm ET. Ironically, the station won't be able to get ads up until at least tomorrow because of tricky technical and legal issues around scheduling commercial time.
The hasty turnaround time for stations directed to start running the ads again indicates that the time that McCain was operatively OFF the air may have been very limited in some markets, if they were able to be off the air at all.
On Pittsburgh station WPXI, for example, ads ran continually through the week because of technicians' inability to kill ads already booked on computer logs. They'll continue with scheduled ads -- without a pause.
From NBC's Ken Strickland
There was supposed to be a bipartisan meeting between the principle Congressional negotiators on the bailout legislation at 3pm today. No Paulson, no Bernanke--just House and Senate members.
But apparently, someone forgot to invite the Republicans.
The meeting didn't happen. They'll try to reschedule.
Who did show up? The Democrats. Democratic Senators Chris Dodd, Kent Conrad, Chuck Schumer, and Max Baucus, and Democratic House members Barney Frank and Rahm Emanuel came by.
It should have been obvious to us press folks that something was wrong. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire is the negotiator for Senate Republicans. He walked down the hall toward the meeting room door and then walked right passed it. He never even made a move to open the door.
The press assumed he was coming back. He never did.
From NBC's Jim Popkin
Years before "Troopergate" and accusations that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tried to kick her former brother-in-law out of the state police force, she was praising him as "a fine example" of "high-caliber personnel." In a letter dated July 8, 1999, Sarah Palin commended her future brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, for his hard work at Wasilla's July 4th parade.
"SRA Wooten worked hard to locate and deliver appropriate supplies to use in our parade," the then-mayor of Wasilla wrote to Wooten's Air Force commander. "I believe Mike is a fine example of the high-caliber personnel we are blessed to have in the United States Air Force. He was extremely helpful to our community and I thank you for allowing his assistance," Palin wrote.
The unsigned letter is one of hundreds of documents released today to NBC News by the Wasilla city government, dating back to Palin's six-year term as mayor.
Read more at Deep Background, NBC's investigative blog.
From NBC's Chuck Todd and Mark Murray
First Read has learned from TV ad-buying sources that the Republican National Committee's independent expenditure unit is active again. And it will launch a nearly $5 million advertising blitz beginning Tuesday in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and -- get this -- Indiana.
This is the first evidence we've seen that the GOP is now targeting the Hoosier State, a state Bush won 60%-39% in 2004.
From NBC's Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro
So what if McCain shows up and tonight and says, "I'm sorry I couldn't sign on to this Washington-Wall Street plan that I worried was putting an even bigger burden on taxpayers than this mess already has. Now, Sen. Obama, I understand that you are confident in these folks in Washington and New York who have everyone convinced this is the only plan. And I respect that, but I am hearing from people all over the country who don't get this plan and don't understand how it will work. And why should they trust a group of folks in Washington and New York who broke this system to fix it?"
McCain is not winning this political battle right now as the media elite do believe the White House, Wall Street and Congressional Democrats on this. It's a pretty strong united front for us not to believe this. That said, McCain and House Republicans are channeling their inner populist, something the Republican Party hasn't done in quite some time. Don't write off this McCain strategy just yet if Obama appears too cozy with Washington and New York elites, and it's McCain who is the one looking like the outsider.
And there might be an immigration analogy here. Has McCain learned a lesson from that first battle that almost sunk his campaign and decided to listen to the base on this? This whole fight looks a bit like immigration with media, political elites on one side and "conservative populists" on the other.
On the other hand, Republicans were hurt in 2006 after running solely against immigration reform -- not helping them with Hispanics and female voters -- and it cemented the idea that Republicans were callous toward immigrants. Will House Republicans (and McCain) cement the idea that Republicans aren't interested in making government work?
Additionally, McCain (apparently) said nothing at the White House, he hasn't been decisive about a position or the state of the economy. And, as we wrote this morning, he has to either convince skeptical Republicans or present his own plan. He hasn't done either yet.
All of this pointed to McCain coming to the debate tonight because he owes the country an explanation of his actions. Now, we know he will be here, and what better way to explain than to 60-75 million people at the same time.
From NBC's Ken Strickland
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell today announced that Senator Judd Gregg will be their membership's sole negotiator in talks to reach a deal on a financial rescue package. Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Paulson recommended that each of the four congressional caucuses send just one representative to meetings.
(Earlier today, House Republicans appointed Roy Blunt as their point man. House Democrats have been sending over House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank. And while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he reserves the right to send as many representatives as he wants, Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd has been the most visible Senate Democrat involved.)
At a brief news conference earlier today, Gregg said "the progress that has been made so far has been significant." He attributed some of that progress to yesterday's visit to Washington by McCain and Obama. "First, it got us focused," Gregg said. "And secondly, but more importantly, it got the American people focused on the seriousness of the issue."
From NBC's John Yang
In her daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said that "history will be the judge" of whether Thursday's meeting was a good idea. She said that, from her perspective, it was helpful to get everyone in one place to see where each of them stood and what remained to be done. She said the meeting was "very constructive for the large majority of it."
Asked about the McCain campaign's contention that all of Obama's statements were political posturing, Perino responded, "Everybody there was constructive and focused on finding a solution." She declined to detail McCain's comments and participation in the meeting.
The administration still backs the central core of the Paulson proposal -- that the federal government assume the risks of "illiquid" assets. Perino said that she did not think that anyone involved believes that the mortgage-backed security insurance alternative proposed by House Republicans would "take over the whole package."
Perino also told reporters today that Bush is primarily communicating with congressional Republicans through House Republican Leader John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson remains the administration's point man in dealing with the Hill. National Economic Council director Keith Hennessey and Legislative Affairs Director Dan Meyer are also on the Hill. Information for the President is being channeled through White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and Deputy Chief of Staff Joel Kaplan.
From NBC's Mark Murray
The McCain campaign just announced that the Arizona senator will attend tonight's presidential debate. "The McCain campaign is resuming all activities and the Senator will travel to the debate this afternoon," the statement reads. "Following the debate, he will return to Washington to ensure that all voices and interests are represented in the final agreement, especially those of taxpayers and homeowners."
Below is the entire statement...
"John McCain's decision to suspend his campaign was made in the hopes that politics could be set aside to address our economic crisis.
"In response, Americans saw a familiar spectacle in Washington. At a moment of crisis that threatened the economic security of American families, Washington played the blame game rather than work together to find a solution that would avert a collapse of financial markets without squandering hundreds of billions of taxpayers' money to bailout bankers and brokers who bet their fortunes on unsafe lending practices.
"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. There was no deal or offer yesterday that had a majority of support in Congress. There was no deal yesterday that included adequate protections for the taxpayers. It is not enough to cut deals behind closed doors and then try to force it on the rest of Congress -- especially when it amounts to thousands of dollars for every American family.
"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 Democratic interests stood together in opposition to an agreement that would accommodate additional taxpayer protections.
"Senator McCain has spent the morning talking to members of the Administration, members of the Senate, and members of the House. He is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations, including Representative Blunt as a designated negotiator for House Republicans. The McCain campaign is resuming all activities and the Senator will travel to the debate this afternoon. Following the debate, he will return to Washington to ensure that all voices and interests are represented in the final agreement, especially those of taxpayers and homeowners."
From NBC's Mark Murray
Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, tells Newsweek's Tammy Haddad at the Memphis Airport that he will know by noon if the first presidential debate will take place. If McCain does not come by law there will be no debate because it is an "illegal contribution."
When asked what the absolutely drop dead time is he replied, "the final sweep by 5:00 pm."
From NBC's Ken Strickland and Mike Viqueira
During a speech on the Senate floor this morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) urged President Bush to "respectfully tell Sen. McCain to get out of town. He's not helping."
Schumer also requested that Bush get the his House Republicans in line. "We need President Bush to take leadership. We need President Bush, first and foremost, to get the Republican House members to support his plan or modify it in some way to bring them on board," he said.
He added, "When you inject presidential politics into some of the most difficult negotiations under normal circumstances, it is fraught with difficulty. Before McCain made his announcement, we were making great progress. Now after his announcement, we are behind the 8 ball. We have to put things back together again."
"So this is a plea to President Bush, for the sake of America, please get your party in line. Get the House Republicans to be more constructive; get Sen. McCain to leave town and not throw fire on these flames. And maybe we can get something done."
Meanwhile, per a GOP congressional source, McCain has told House Republicans leaders this morning that it was time to get someone to the negotiating table and work towards a deal.
House Minority Leader Boehner has now designated the whip, Roy Blunt, to be that person.
*** UPDATE *** RNC spokesman Danny Diaz issues this statement responding to Schumer: "Chuck Schumer is now attacking the person working to solve the mess he helped create. While Schumer was against reform in the housing industry, Sen. McCain was calling for it. And now that we have reached an economic crisis, Sen. McCain is focused on finding a solution and Schumer is focused on leveling political attacks."
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Carrie Dann
OXFORD, Miss. -- Is it really debate day? Only John McCain knows, but last night he and his campaign sounded like they were going to find their way here before 9:00 pm ET. So assuming McCain does show up, what should we expect? Will there be a record-breaking audience that watches tonight? We have our doubts; after all, it's high school football night, especially for states like Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. As for the candidates, who's the favorite? The format sets up nicely for Obama (no real time limits and they'll be at podiums). And the subject matter (foreign policy) sets up well for McCain. Neither had stellar debate performances in the primaries, and they split their two sit-down forums, with McCain winning the more significant one: Saddleback. The trick for both candidates isn't performing well. Instead, it's avoiding some of their own bad habits. Obama can't let himself slip into condescending or smart-aleck mode and appear too passive (see: today's New York Times), and McCain can't have those awkward smiles slip in during a serious point (see: "hell, gates of"). Since McCain is behind ever so slightly right now, the burden is on him to start of well tonight. But given the chaotic events of the week, he does have a built-in excuse if he doesn't perform up to par -- he wasn't focused on the debate as much as Obama. Then again, is that a good excuse, especially when it was his decision to direct his focus elsewhere? Here's one reason why so many folks are convinced McCain will show up: Does he really want to wake up on Monday morning having been a party both to Washington's inability to get a deal done and be perceived as he ducked a debate?
*** Losing the spin war: Speaking of, McCain's losing the spin war on the bailout plan for a couple of reasons. One, he's not just up against a fairly united Democratic Congress and Obama -- but also the White House and Hank Paulson. And Senate Republicans appear to be on board as well; GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander told CNBC's John Harwood that as many of 40 out of the 49 Republicans in that chamber could support the bailout. It's only McCain and the House Republicans who are now opposing this. Last night, the McCain campaign sent a memo to reporters, saying: "At this moment, the plan that has been put forth by the Administration does not enjoy the confidence of the American people as it will not protect that taxpayers and will sacrifice Main Street in favor of Wall Street. The bottom line is that as of tonight, there are not enough Republican or Democrat votes for the current plan. However, we are still optimistic that a bipartisan solution will be found." But by injecting himself into the bailout negotiations, McCain has forced himself into this either-or situation: convince House Republicans to back the plan, or come up with a plan of his own. If he can't do either, then why did he come to Washington? And what happens if the market collapses today? Does McCain own a market collapse?
*** Whose bright idea was this? NBC's John Yang makes this other point: "Besides being a big stakeholder in Washington Mutual, the person I'd least like to be this morning is the Bush aide who told the president it was a good idea to adopt McCain's idea to call the congressional leaders and the two presidential nominees to the White House. (I can still hear him roaring to an aide during the 2000 primary campaign: "Whose brilliant idea was this?!?") By all accounts, what White House officials intended to be a meeting to bring everyone together, get them on the same page, propel them to a final deal -- and, McCain likely hoped, make the Republican nominee look like the hero -- turned into a politically charged session of finger-pointing and bitter recriminations." Also, it was just announced that Bush will make a statement on the financial crisis at 9:35 am ET.
*** Palin's bad week gets worse: What has happened to the Sarah Palin who stepped onto the national stage with her well-received convention speech three weeks ago? That person is now a shell of her former self. Had it not been for McCain's debate gambit, Palin's near-disastrous two-part interview with Katie Couric would be dominating the political discussion right now. On Wednesday, she was unable to cite an example of McCain being in favor of more oversight outside the one Couric provided ("I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you," she finally replied). And yesterday, she provided an interview clip heard 'round the world. Was this a Roger Mudd moment? The news has only gotten worse for Palin, with the Washington Post reporting that she accepted $25,000 in gifts as Alaska governor, which brings into question her credentials as a reformer. Is there now a new meaning to the "Palin Effect"? At this point, it really depends on how she performs at next week's debate. If there is an upside to the Palin performance this week, she has moved her debate expectations to an all-time low.
*** The debate skinny: The first presidential debate between McCain and Obama -- if it takes place -- is scheduled to begin at 9:00 pm ET here at the University of Mississippi. The topic of the 90-minute debate is foreign policy, although moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS has suggested that he will ask questions about the economy and the Wall Street crisis. There will be two-minute answers, followed by a five-minute discussion for each question.
*** Talk about shaking things up: Oregon State beating USC last night is the equivalent of Obama carrying Mississippi or McCain carrying Massachusetts. It's not impossible, and we can explain it away if it somehow happened. But it sure is improbable.
*** On the trail: Biden (along with his wife) attends a firehouse fish fry in Cudahy, WI. Palin hits a debate-watching party in Philadelphia, PA.
Countdown to the vice presidential debate: 6 days
Countdown to the second presidential debate 11 days
Countdown to the third presidential debate: 19 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 39 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 116 days
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This New York Times analysis lead perhaps sums up best McCain's gambit. "McCain had intended to ride back into Washington on Thursday as a leader who had put aside presidential politics to help broker a solution to the financial crisis. Instead he found himself in the midst of a remarkable partisan showdown, lacking a clear public message for how to bring it to an end. At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting."
More: "At the very least, Mr. McCain's actions have shaken up the campaign and the negotiations over the bailout package. It has put him at center stage, permitted him to present himself as putting his country ahead of his campaign — a recurring theme of his candidacy — and put him on deck to, if not help orchestrate a deal, at least be associated with one. But Mr. McCain is certainly seeing the risks of making such a direct intervention. He now finds himself in the middle of an ideological war that pits conservative Republicans, loath to spending so much taxpayer money on Wall Street, against the Bush White House, which, with the support of Democrats and a sizable number of Republicans, sees a bailout package as essential to averting a potential economic disaster."
While there is no doubt a middle ground, at the moment Mr. McCain finds himself between conservatives that he needs to keep on his side for the election … or being identified with the failure to complete a plan."
The AP has a similar story, which quotes many more folks criticizing McCain's role – and Republicans aren't over the top in their praise. "Even the House's Republican leader, John Boehner of Ohio, passed up a chance to praise McCain's leadership powers shortly before the two met in the Capitol at midday Thursday. Asked by reporters if McCain could help win House Republican votes for the proposed package, Boehner shrugged and said, 'Who knows?'"
"Boehner later said in a statement that McCain 'has a vital role to play in this process, and he has a history of working together with both parties to make things happen.' Other Republicans gave McCain more credit. 'They got something done this morning only because McCain came back,' said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. DeMint later called the administration's proposal 'a trillion-dollar Band-Aid that does not contain a single item that will stimulate our economy.'"
The Los Angeles Times reports, "In a roller-coaster day of hopes raised and hopes dashed, efforts to negotiate a compromise on the $700-billion plan for rescuing the nation's financial system bogged down Thursday, with conservative Republicans denouncing the strategy as ill-conceived and Democrats accusing GOP presidential candidate John McCain of encouraging the revolt. What remained unclear was whether Thursday's breakdown marked the beginning of the end for the rescue effort, or merely a tumultuous interlude on the way to approving a federal bailout that many in Congress consider unpalatable but unavoidable."
The New York Times: "The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support."
"'I didn't know you were Catholic," Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson's kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: 'It's not me blowing this up, it's the Republicans.'"
"Mr. Paulson sighed. 'I know. I know.'"
The New York Daily News: "John McCain rides in to save day -- and makes a mess."