McCain Move 'Desperate', Say GOP Strategists

Nominee gets public support, but private views are scathing
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2008 5:46 AM CDT
Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. holds a press availability after touring the Dow Corning plant in Freeland, Mich., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008.    (AP Photo/The Saginaw News, Jeff Schrier)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Republican leaders are publicly praising John McCain's decision to suspend his campaign and seek a postponement of this Friday's debate because of the economic crisis. But off the record, GOP strategists have been scathing about their nominee's latest surprise move. One Republican told the Washington Post it was "desperate and nuts," while another said, "I don't get it at all."

Party lines have hardened quickly in response to McCain's announcement, with Newt Gingrich calling it "the greatest single act of responsibility ever taken by a presidential candidate." But while the GOP is pushing the move as an act of bipartisanship, all agree that the McCain campaign hangs in the balance—and that he risks appearing reckless and irrelevant if he further complicates the bailout talks.