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Debate Watch: What Is the Sound of One Voice Debating?

What is the sound of one voice debating? The American public almost found out.

The presidential debate watch came to a close Friday morning, with Sen. John McCain’s campaign office saying there was enough progress in negotiations over a financial bail-out to allow him to jet down to Mississippi.

Given the attention to this debate, the on-again/off again debate may now draw even more viewers to see how the candidates handle the inevitable questions about the tanking economy.

Without a done—or apparently almost done—deal, McCain had said he wouldn’t be making the trip to Oxford, Miss., for the first presidential debate Friday night. His Democratic challenger, Sen. Barack Obama, had said he would be there.

But there had appeared earlier in the day to be a suggesetiong that McCain, too, could make the 9 p.m. debate with a little creative license with the "done deal" part..

A Campaign spokesman had told B&C that the campaign would be suspended "until [Sen. McCain] feels there is enough progress or a solution in sight to head to the debate."

That provided some new wiggle room, given that the McCain camp also knew that it probably would not have been a good idea to give Obama the stage to himself.

Senator McCain suspended the campaign Thursday morning and asked Senator Barack Obama to do the same. Obama declined, saying they could work on the crisis and still talk to the American people about that and other issues–the debate was to have been on foreign policy, McCain’s strong suit. 

"We will be attending debates," an Obama campaign spokeswoman had said "It’s on our public schedule." 

Moderator Jim Lehrer has been in Oxford for several days.

So, is he going to add some questions in light of the meltdown? "Jim has always kept his questions close to the vest," says Bell. "He doesn’t discuss them with anyone, even his wife. But I am sure he will keep them current."

Now that Senator John McCain has decided to debate Friday night, turns out there will now be two McCains in Oxford, Miss., site of the televised presidential debate.

McCain’s daughter, Meghan, is apparently taking advantage of the occasion to promote her book, My Dad, John McCain.

According to an e-mail from the McCain campaign Friday afternoon, Meghan will be in Oxford Saturday morning to sign copies of her book at a Toy store there.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.