Geraldine Ferraro on McCain Campaign Suspension

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," September 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: John McCain suspends his campaign to go to Washington and focus on the economic crisis. Barack Obama says, no, he does not feel that is necessary. He's going to stay campaigning, wants to stick with the debate as planned on Friday night.

Geraldine Ferraro, who supported Hillary Clinton during the primaries, joins me now.

Geraldine, your reaction to all of this.

GERALDINE FERRARO, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER: Well, you know, I think he can really walk and chew gum at the same time. Having prepared for the debate, all the preparation, I'm pretty sure, is done by now. So if Sen. McCain wanted to do two things, which is one, address the issue, which is the economy and what is happening now, and doing it as a sitting senator, having input into a plan that will eventually, you know, be what the incoming president, if it's he or Sen. Obama will be dealing with in January — I think, you know, he could do both.

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That is the diplomat in me trying to see piece of the program that works. I think, for John McCain, this has been another political judgment on what would help his campaign. Because you recall that he did suspend the convention activities during the time when Gustav was dealing with the situation in the Gulf, and that worked for him. People got a very positive view of it.

So I think they weighed this very carefully. I think this is pretty much a political decision as well.


MACCALLUM: There is no doubt that it will be interpreted that way by many people. It's also interesting to note that what they're coming out with now, and they just reported through Carl Cameron to us, or we're just hearing through Carl Cameron, is that they want to basically do the first presidential debate next week on Thursday. It would actually be the day. That was to be vice presidents' day.

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So are we going to also hear perhaps from the politically minded folks that this was just a way to sort of give the vice presidents another week to get ready for their own debate, which will be on the following week in Mississippi?

FERRARO: Maybe, and the thing about it is any of these things are negotiated. I mean, these were not printed out at the beginning of the campaign. This is where we're going to have the presidential and vice presidential debates and all the rest of the stuff. They can renegotiate that. They can renegotiate where they are taking place. John McCain, if he really wanted to do the debate, could have it done by satellite from Washington while Sen. Obama is in Mississippi.

MACCALLUM: Is there any scenario — you know, sort of the initial blush on this, I think has been that it was a strong, bold move for John McCain, which may or may not work for him. What is the scenario where you could see this not working to his benefit? Is there anyway that, you know, it comes up, making him look bad?

FERRARO: Well, because — yes, because there are people who are turning around, who might be saying, "OK. Doesn't John McCain have an answer to any of this yet?" And maybe what he is worried about is — and it will be done this way — the subject is foreign policy. But they are not going to stick to foreign policy because what is happening in our economy with this $700 billion bailout, is having a global effect. That's just been a Clinton Global Initiative for the whole day.

And as much as we are talking about healthcare and education and all the rest of the stuff in developing countries, part of the discussion is what impact does this $700 billion bailout have on all those things?

MACCALLUM: So what would be a good move? Maybe it will be a good move on Barack Obama's part to say, "We should adapt — or what we should is talk about the economy on Friday night. Why don't you go to Washington and do what you need to do, and I'm going to do what I need to do. Let's get together and talk about the economy on Friday night instead?"

FERRARO: I personally think that that would be a good idea. I mean — and it is focusing on an issue that is on everybody's mind. It is on everybody's mind from the taxpayers turning around saying, "I do not want to pay for this to the CEOs, to the foundations, to the governments."

MACCALLUM: Clearly the focus of the week.

FERRARO: Absolutely.

MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, Geraldine Ferraro.

FERRARO: Thank you.

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