On Morning Joe, Nicolle Wallace, senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's campaign, stated that "our campaign is suspended" pending agreement on legislation to address the country's current financial situation, and later accused Sen. Barack Obama of having "done exactly zero" to produce bipartisan legislation. Hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski did not ask Wallace to reconcile her appearance and her attack on Obama with her claim that McCain's campaign is "suspended."
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On the September 25 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski hosted McCain campaign senior adviser Nicolle Wallace, who accused Sen. Barack Obama of having "done exactly zero" to produce bipartisan legislation, but they did not ask Wallace to reconcile her appearance and her attack on Obama with her claim that "our campaign is suspended" pending agreement on legislation to address the country's current financial situation.
When Obama campaign communications director Robert Gibbs, who appeared alongside Wallace on Morning Joe, said that Obama has "reach[ed] across party lines ... throughout his career," Wallace interrupted Gibbs by saying of Obama: "He's done exactly zero, but you can start any time ... I mean, he's done exactly never. But yesterday was a really good day to start." Gibbs responded, "You know, I can't even get a word in edge-wise with the campaign that's putting everything first," and Wallace replied: "My husband says the same thing." Scarborough later asked Wallace, "Does your husband really say he can't get a word in edge-wise?" but neither Brzezinski nor Scarborough addressed Wallace's attack on Obama.
Sen. John McCain said in a September 24 statement that "[t]omorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign," and further asserted: "I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so."
From the September 25 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
SCARBOROUGH: Nicolle, if John McCain, who's been in Washington, D.C., for 25 years, if he knows the issues better than Barack Obama --
SCARBOROUGH: Twenty-six years. Sorry about that --
SCARBOROUGH: -- a quarter-century and a year. Why can't the guy that's been in Washington, D.C., 26 years negotiate up until about 5 p.m., step on his private jet, fly to Ole Miss, and out-debate this guy who's supposedly inexperienced?
WALLACE: This is not a debate about debates that American families are talking about over breakfast this morning.
SCARBOROUGH: But it is a debate about debate right now.
BRZEZINSKI: It's not a debate if we don't even know if we're having it.
WALLACE: Well, the debate will happen as soon as the deal is done. Now, I'm not as cynical as Robert -- you know, they're gonna be at the White House today together and, you know, maybe it'll be done. I don't think anyone in the country cares at the hour at which they debate. I mean, they want to see these two men stand toe to toe and debate the big ideas, but no one cares if it's Friday at 9 or Saturday at 10 or Sunday at 1 or Monday at 6. It's a debate about --
SCARBOROUGH: If there's not a deal, will John McCain not show up? Will there be an empty chair in Oxford, Mississippi?
WALLACE: Not only is he not gonna go engage in a political debate, our ads will stay off the air. I'm sure by the time I get off of this set, I'll be yanked. I mean, our campaign is suspended until the deal -- I just saw Jim Cramer -- he walked off the Today show. He's shaking with fear and rage at what is happening to our economy. This is really deadly serious stuff.
BRZEZINSKI: Was there any attempt to negotiate behind the scenes with the Obama campaign? Did the Obama campaign reach out to you? Did you guys reach out to them to discuss maybe collectively deciding to put off the debate?
WALLACE: Well, I think that calls were made between both campaigns and, you know --
BRZEZINSKI: And what happened?
WALLACE: -- we invited Senator Obama to come to Washington with us, and he has to make decisions that are in his interest, and we honor and respect that.
BRZEZINSKI: But was there any attempt to collectively put off the debate?
SCARBOROUGH: Robert, Robert --
WALLACE: We asked him if he would share our plan, but obviously he has his own vision for how to handle a crisis.
SCARBOROUGH: Robert, how did that go down? How did that go down? Was it -- do you guys feel like you were undercut yesterday?
GIBBS: No, not at all. Look, Joe, what we started out the day about 8:30 yesterday morning, Barack Obama placed a phone call to Senator McCain, because he understood the power of reaching across party lines like he's done throughout his career to demonstrate how important this financial package would be --
WALLACE: He's done exactly zero, but you can start any time.
GIBBS: -- it took six hours for the McCain --
WALLACE: I mean, he's done exactly never. But yesterday was a really good day to start.
GIBBS: I'm sorry, Nicolle --
BRZEZINSKI: Obama reached -- OK, go ahead, Robert.
GIBBS: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. You know, I can't even get a word in edge-wise with the campaign --
WALLACE: My husband says the same thing.
GIBBS: -- that's putting everything first. But look, we're happy to -- we're happy that Senator McCain believed that a strong statement of principles about what this bill has to contain was important. I think we can do that. I think we can -- if Senator Obama's leadership is needed in a meeting in Washington today or tomorrow or Saturday, we're happy to be there. We think -- we think we're making progress on this debate. We think this package has to include protections not just for investment banks and Wall Street but for homeowners on Main Street, and I think we are making good progress to ensuring that we don't just hand over a $700 billion blank check that the American people don't have any oversight over, or give money to CEOs that caused this problem. We're making good progress, and I think we can make good progress on this package, debate -- we can go to Mississippi, probably swing in and get some barbecue before the debate, and still have time to talk about the global financial crisis.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Robert, good luck on Friday night, whether you're debating --
GIBBS: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: -- John McCain or an empty chair. And good luck also on Saturday. I would hate to see Auburn lose two games in a row. It would really break my heart.
GIBBS: The Volunteers is -- the Volunteers is a tough game, and we're gonna take some time out from the financial negotiations to probably watch a little of the game.
SCARBOROUGH: Very good. I can -- I can tell you, Washington could be burning, and if Alabama were playing Georgia, I'd say, just, you know --
SCARBOROUGH: -- just keep it out of the office until the game's over. All right, thank you so much, Robert. Robert has to go.
BRZEZINSKI: Robert, thanks.
SCARBOROUGH: Nicolle, stay here, because Peggy has a question for you. Don't -- keep the music down. We got a question.
BRZEZINSKI: Go, Peggy.
PEGGY NOONAN (Wall Street Journal columnist): My question, Nicolle: Give us a little bit -- just a little bit -- of tick-tock in the McCain campaign as you lead up to this big decision, "We're suspending the campaign, we're going to Washington." Whose idea was it? What was the argument for it? Did they think it clever? Did they think it helpful? Why not go to the Obama people and say, "We're gonna do this, do you want to come along with us?"
WALLACE: I think it would have been better if Obama had come along with us, so, yes, that was the --
NOONAN: Did you say that to him --
WALLACE: -- privately --
NOONAN: -- please come with us?
WALLACE: -- that was the, the offer extended to them. You know, I don't want to escalate any brinksmanship, but that was what was presented to them when we reached out, that we're gonna suspend our campaign and go to Washington, and we should do this together. I have to say, though --
BRZEZINSKI: That's interesting.
WALLACE: -- I don't disagree with much of what Robert just said. I mean, you know, they're both, if you look at the principles -- and what this is about is how you're gonna fix it -- they have the same principles when it comes to the need for oversight. You don't fix a system that broke 'cause of oversight with a bill with no oversight. So, there is, I think, a historic degree of consensus between Barack Obama and John McCain about what needs to be done to fix this bill, and that's the news that we're all --
NOONAN: Whose idea was it? When did it come up in the campaign? Were you on the plane? Where were you all when this came up?
WALLACE: We had been in New York, and so we were in New York --
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
WALLACE: -- and this is kind of the third step in an escalation of deep concern that John McCain has about the crisis.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Nicolle, thank you for being with us. Does your husband really say he can't get a word in edge-wise?
BRZEZINSKI: I don't believe that.
WALLACE: All the time.
SCARBOROUGH: I believe it. All right, thank you so much, Nicolle. Appreciate you being here. Coming up next, Chucky T., also, former assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin will be here.