Crew members prepared for the debate on Friday at the Ford Center on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.
Moments after Senator McCain ended several of days of suspense and announced that he would participate in the debate after all, the doors of his campaign plane were opened and the steps were down, as Mr. Obama’s 757 idled nearby on the runway at Ronald Reagan National Airport outside Washington.
Senator Obama finished a round of telephone calls with Congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. before leaving Washington to prepare for the first presidential debate of the general election. He arrived in Memphis about 12:30 p.m. CDT, and made his way to Mississippi for a walk-through of the debate hall.
“My strong sense is that the best thing that I can do, rather than to inject presidential politics into some delicate negotiations, is to go down to Mississippi and explain to the American people what is going on and my vision for leading the country over the next four years,” Mr. Obama told reporters aboard his plane. “I’m looking forward to the debate and look forward after the debate to coming back to Washington and hopefully getting a package done.”
Aides to Mr. McCain said he also planned to return to Washington after the debate if there is no consensus in sight in the bailout deal.
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