McCain agrees to debate

Presidential debate between Republican and Democratic rivals set to take place.

    Obama had criticised McCain's call to
    halt the debate [GALLO/GETTY]

    McCain will then return to Washington in order to continue work on the bail-out plan, his campaign added.

    McCain criticised

    NEW MEDIA


    Follow our coverage of the debate live on Al Jazeera's Twitter service 

    Both candidates had attended meetings in Washington on Thursday along with other members of US congress and George Bush, the US president, but an agreement on the package has not yet been reached.

    McCain's call to halt the debate - the first of three between the two candidates before polling is held on November 4 - had been criticised by Obama as "injecting presidential politics into delicate negotiations".

    Harry Reid, the senate majority leader, also said that McCain had only "hurt the process".

    However, McCain's campaign said the decision to temporarily suspend his campaign had been made "in the hopes that politics could be set aside to address our economic crisis" and condemned the Democrats for playing the "blame game".

    Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds in Oxford, Mississippi, says that it is important for McCain to do well, especially because he is the underdog at present, with the latest poll by ABC News/Washington Post giving Obama a nine-point lead at 52 per cent to McCain's 43 per cent.

    'Relief' over debate

    In focus

    In-depth coverage of the US election
    The debate is supposed to be on the candidates' foreign policy, however Jim Lehrer from PBS news, who will moderate the debate, has indicated he will not feel bound to stick solely to foreign policy topics considering the crisis facing the financial system.

    Richard Wolfe, White House correspondent with Newsweek, said the US people would not really pay attention to the words, but the demeanor of the candidates.

    The expectation is that McCain will come out and be aggressive or feisty while Obama tends to be more long-winded and professorial, he said.

    Those gathered at the University of Oxford, Mississippi said they were relieved the debate was to go ahead.

    "McCain needed to come back here and take part in the debate, if he hadn't it would have been a complete failure," Ian Johnson, an Obama supporter attending a "Rock the Vote" concert in the town, told Al Jazeera.

    And Reid Baker, a McCain supporting student at the university, said he was excited and relieved that the event was to take place.

    "I understand why he [McCain] did have to go Washington and even if he hadn't come down here I still would have voted for him."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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