WASHINGTON--"I believe the debate is going to happen as scheduled," said Barack Obama top advisor Robert Gibbs on Thursday morning about the first presidential debate scheduled for Friday night in Oxford, Mississippi.
John McCain said he will not show up if Congress had not made a deal on an economic bailout package. McCain, Obama and the congressional leaders meet with President Bush at the White House this afternoon to find common ground on a rescue plan. Congress balked at the $700 billion bill Bush sent to Capitol Hill. Bush on Wednesday night signaled he is open to a bi-partisan compromise.
While the debate is supposed to be focused on national security and international affairs, Gibbs said the rivals have been told the subject of the financial crisis would be incorporated in the questioning.
"I think it will be an important, the beginning of an important series of events in the campaign...an opportunity, the debates are an opportunity for Sen. Obama to talk about his judgment and his vision for the country and I think also we'll see Sen. McCain, somebody who bragged repeatedly about his knowledge on foreign policy issues, so obviously he goes into the debate with an advantage on that terrain," Gibbs said, downplaying expectations.
Gibbs spoke at a reporters breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.