| GEO World|
| McCain suspends campaign over crisis, Obama refuses|
| Updated at: 0840 PST, Thursday, September 25, 2008|
NEW YORK: John McCain suspended his White House bid over the Wall Street meltdown but Barack Obama refused to follow suit and rejected his Republican foe's call to delay Friday's first presidential debate.
As a high-stakes political standoff erupted, McCain said he would head back to Washington on Thursday and called on President George W. Bush to call a summit including himself, Obama and congressional leaders to solve the crisis.
But his Democratic rival insisted it was more important than ever to debate the turmoil wracking the US economy before the American people, and in a biting rebuke said a president should be able to "deal with more than one thing at once."
Political brinkmanship spread to the White House race as a 700-billion dollar Bush administration bailout bill for the teetering finance industry got bogged down in Congress amid rising opposition on both sides of the aisle.
McCain's bold gambit came as several new opinion polls showed him falling behind Democrat Barack Obama in the presidential race amid evidence that his halting early response to the financial crisis has hurt his prospects.
"Tomorrow morning I'll suspend my campaign and return to Washington," the Republican told reporters, adding he had spoken with Obama to inform him of his decision.
"I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time," McCain said, stressing the nation "faces an historic crisis in our financial system."