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Barack Obama says the show must go on; Debate Commission agrees but McCain camp says whatever

September 24, 2008 |  2:32 pm

(UPDATE: The McCain campaign responds below.)

Barack Obama rejected John McCain's proposal that the first presidential debate, scheduled Friday, be postponed to deal with the increasingly fragile prospects of the federal government bailout of financial firms.

"This is exactly the time the American people need to hear from the person who in about 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess," Obama said. "In my mind, [the debate] is more important then ever."

To read more of Obama's remarks, click here.

Senior advisor Robert Gibbs weighed in more bluntly: "My sense is there is going to be a stage, an audience, a moderator, and at least one presidential candidate."

The Commission on Presidential Debates agreed, issuing a statement that said the debate is moving forward as planned.

UPDATE: The McCain camp seemed unfazed by the commission's remarks. Campaign spokesman Brian Rogers told The Times' Bob Drogin that while the GOP nominee looks forward to going mano-a-mano with Obama, the meeting will just have to wait.

"Debates can be rescheduled," Rogers said. "Dealing with an urgent national crisis cannot be rescheduled."

" ... his only focus now is to bring people together to work out a deal to take some action to deal with the crisis we have," Rogers said. "If we can hammer out a deal by the time of the debate, sure, we'd love to do a debate."

Earlier today, McCain announced that he was putting his campaign on hold to return to Washington, and urged Obama to do the same, calling for the debate to be postponed.

The Obama campaign appeared to be caught off-guard by McCain's announcement, though a stream of comments criticizing McCain's proposal from high-ranking Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, appeared to indicate which way Obama was leaning.

— Seema Mehta