2:20 p.m. ET: A deal on bailout legislation is at hand on Capitol Hill -- sort of. Key members of the House and Senate spoke not long ago to say that they had reached what Chris Dodd called a "fundamental agreement" on a package. But pockets of resistance remain, particularly within the GOP. John Boehner made a point earlier of saying that there is no "deal," as far as he is concerned, until he can take the plan to his fellow House Republicans for review.
It may well turn out that House Republicans will be the only significant bloc not to vote for this measure, even if John McCain supports it. Speaking of the GOP nominee, he's on the Hill now, but is he actually playing any role in the talks? Barney Frank previewed the coming Democratic spin today by gently mocking the idea that everyone will be trooping over to the White House (McCain's idea) to break the deadlock, when "there's really not much of a deadlock to break."
Still no definitive word on Friday's debate, though Haley Barbour did say today that he still expects the debate to happen. And if it does happen, we now know where Sarah Palin will be: At an Irish pub in Philadelphia (literally, the place is called Irish Pub). Remember, Bar + Debate = Drinking Games. Perhaps Palin will do a shot every time someone says "change" or "leadership" during the debate.
Beyond the oxygen-sucking stories of the bailout and the presidential race, Ted Stevens is on trial today at the D.C. federal courthouse. What does it mean when a titan of the Senate is on trial for alleged corruption, and it gets almost no attention?
11:15 a.m. ET: The bees are busy on Capitol Hill this morning, working to hammer out a final deal on bailout legislation. Given the pace of the talks, it seems possible that there will be a rough consensus on a deal by the time the Bush-Obama-McCain-leadership gathering happens at the White House this afternoon. Hill Republicans will be watching closely to see whether McCain backs whatever deal emerges, as his support would give them more cover to vote for it.
McCain spoke this morning at the Clinton Global Initiative, and said: "It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration's proposal to meet the crisis. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time." Of course, the plan he's referring to -- the one first proposed by Hank Paulson -- is no longer on the table and hasn't been for a few days. Some Democrats suspect McCain is deliberately downplaying the progress on the Hill so far to further the storyline that he is coming to town to save the day, while Republicans emphasize that there really is no deal yet.
The fate of the Ole Miss debate remains in flux, as does the congressional schedule. If the bailout vote ends up being scheduled in the Senate for Saturday or Sunday, does that give McCain his final excuse to skip the debate? And will that explanation work with the public?
On the undercard, Joe Biden is campaigning at a pair of stops in Pennsylvania today, as his tough-on-McCain speech on foreign policy yesterday in Ohio got far less attention than it would have on a normal news day.
Speaking of the VP candidates, McCain's campaign has reportedly suggested that Friday night's debate be postponed until Oct. 2, the night that Biden and Sarah Palin are supposed to square off, so their debate would be postponed as well to an unspecified later date. Pure speculation here: Might these cascading delays result in no VP debate at all? Which side would benefit from that? Watch last night's video of Katie Couric's interview with Palin, and decide for yourself.
8 a.m. ET: The two dominant stories of the week -- the economic bailout and the presidential campaign -- collide at the White House this afternoon in an unusual summit meeting between President Bush, Hill leaders, Barack Obama, John McCain and Mikhail Gorbachev (just checking to see if you're awake). Questions abound: Will this be a substantive discussion or a photo-op? What will the seating chart look like? Who will be the first to leak everything afterwards, and do they have The Takeaway's email address?
Bush addressed the nation in prime time last night and reassuringly suggested that "our entire economy is in danger." (Fortunately, the newspaper industry is still doing great!) But before you run out to stock up on canned goods and extra batteries, know that there are indications that a legislative deal on the bailout -- sorry, "rescue effort" -- may come as soon as today.
Real progress toward a compromise today, before McCain even gets the chance to roll up his sleeves and act like he's involved in the talks, may cast more doubt on his "bold -- or bonkers" decision yesterday to suspend his campaign and call for a delay of tomorrow night's debate. (The Takeaway seriously considered suspending his blog today, and calling on all of his competitors to do the same, both for the greater good of the country and so he could get some extra sleep after staying up late to watch baseball. Alas, duty calls.)
Let's say there is a deal on the Hill today. Will McCain still want to skip the debate? The Rebels are nervous down at Ole Miss, where they've spent roughly $5 million prepping for tomorrow night's faceoff. And will McCain's gambit give his campaign any measurable boost after a rough week?
The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has Obama up two points, though, like every other recent survey, it gives Obama a big edge on the economy. It's a good thing for McCain that we're not facing the prospect of "a long and painful recession." Oh, wait ...
September 25, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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