Ed Mazza is The Observer's regional editor for the United States. From now on, he will be following the 2008 election online, and posting daily roundups of the latest from the campaigns and the blogosphere.
When John McCain suspended his campaign yesterday to return to Washington and focus on the economy, supporters cheered. This was exactly the kind of bold, unexpected move their "maverick" was known for, they reasoned. But supporters of Barack Obama were quick to point out that their candidate doesn't seem to have a problem focusing on the economy and the campaign simultaneously.
McCain also called for a postponement of Friday night's debate, the first scheduled meeting between the pair. Obama has said he'd like the debate to go on as scheduled.
Again, McCain supporters say it shows a man who won't settle for business as usual. But his opponents, especially some bloggers, have gone as far as calling the war hero cowardly. Ken Layne of "Wonkette" filed a McCain story under the tag "cowards" and collected his favorite Web responses, such as this one: "In honor of McCain trying to get out of Friday's debate, here's a recipe for chicken pancakes."
The conservative "Blogs for Victory" called the move "bold" and "a brilliant stroke." Similarly, "California Yankee" writes that McCain is "again putting ‘Country First' even as the Dems continue to put party first."
"This Modern World" created a doctored version of the McCain-Palin campaign poster, with "TIME OUT" written beneath it. Below that is a footnote, "How can you expect us to debate foreign policy when we've spent all week trying to figure out the economy?"
On the other hand, "Classical Values" mocks Obama's decision to stay out on the campaign trail. "Evidently he doesn't think his presence will help. I'm inclined to agree."
Many political blogs - especially the more liberal ones - are having a field day with the early reports from a taping of the CBS "Late Show With David Letterman." McCain was scheduled to be a guest, and then cancelled when he suspended his campaign.
Letterman apparently was not impressed. The host, according to the Drudge Report, told his audience "You don't suspend your campaign. This doesn't smell right. This isn't the way a tested hero behaves. I think someone's putting something in his metamucil."
Metamucil is a fiber supplement commonly used by senior citizens, among others.
The Web site also quoted Letterman as saying, "What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"
McCain used Letterman's show to announce his candidacy back in February, 2007.
And finally, blogger Chris Cilizza of the Washington Post points out that the move "comes as two new national polls -- including one conducted by the Washington Post -- show McCain slipping in the head-to-head matchup against Barack Obama."
Only time will tell if it helps him regain the momentum he had after the Republic convention.
The Democrats attack
The Republicans hit back