The debate appears to be going forward as planned.
Barack Obama’s plane to Mississippi took off as planned this morning. John McCain’s plane also went “wheels up” later on.
McCain’s rationale for leaving Washington, at least according to his campaign’s statement, is that the Democrats were negotiating in bad faith, which left him without much reason to stick around. His implication (which I believe I touched on earlier) is that the Democrats were pushing for the package as it stood (with Obama as their point-man), but given its overwhelming public unpopularity, were unwilling to pass it without first recruiting some Republicans to pin it on. When the House GOP refused to go along, the talks broke down.
Obama really didn’t need a rationale for leaving, since he’d been planning on leaving all along. We’ll see if he finds a need to explain anyway.
Expect a flurry of dueling statements during the day, and financial topics leaking into the foreign-policy debate tonight.
UPDATE: At the Rasmussen site (via Power Line), Dick Morris predicts the Democrats will have to cave to the House GOP plan in large part. The Treasury/Pelosi/Reid package as it stands (and which Obama championed on Democrats’ behalf last night) is simply indefensible to voters; they won’t pass it without broad Republican support; that support won’t be forthcoming without major changes in the direction of the House GOP statement of principles from last night’s summit.
Meanwhile, McCain probably won’t take any lasting damage for showing up tonight. For one thing, the Dow is actually up slightly (20+ points) as I write, despite initially plummeting; things are stable enough that he doesn’t look like he’s deserting. For another, if there’s a deal by the time the debate starts, McCain can walk on stage the conquering hero after having given a minority in both houses a much-needed voice in the face of the imminent ramming-through by the majority of a bad, pork-laden bailout plan. On the other hand, if there isn’t a deal by showtime, McCain can (credibly) lace into Obama for defending said bad plan despite the public will and dragging out the market agony.