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With his poll numbers tanking, John McCain wants to pull out of the presidential debate. No, I'm not talking about tomorrow's debate with Barack Obama.

With new polls showing his campaign dead in the water among California Republicans, Arizona Sen. John McCain has pulled out of a long-scheduled debate with Texas Gov. George Bush, set for Thursday in Los Angeles.

McCain campaign officials tried desperately yesterday to put the best face on their withdrawal, even as a new Field Poll showed Bush far ahead among likely Republican voters in the winner-take-all race for the state's 162 GOP delegates.  [...]

The bait and switch on the debate left the Arizona senator -- whose favorite campaign line is "I'll always tell you the truth'' -- wide open to blistering criticism from his rivals.

"Clearly, this is more double-talk from the McCain campaign,'' said Alixe Mattingly, a spokeswoman for Bush. "Pulling out of this debate at the last minute is an indication that they're pulling out of California, where McCain's antagonistic message clearly isn't working.''

And clearly, John McCain has a habit of trying to cut and run when things aren't going his way.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 12:25 PM PDT.

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