I have a reliable source with access to negotiations about the production of tonight's debate. Whether McCain shows or not, his team is proceeding as if he were going to be there. Latest sticky point: how to keep Obama (6'1") from towering over the shorter McCain (5'6").The taller candidate does not always win, but the statistics for the last 100 years or so suggest that height helps. Here's a summary from the Wikipedia article on presidential candidate heights:
If considering restricting to elections in the 20th and 21st centuries, only 8 out of 27 elections were won by the shorter candidate
Were McCain elected to the presidency, he would be the shortest president in 120 years and tied for the second-shortest president of all time.
The producers offered to put a small box behind the podium for McCain to stand on. McCain's people were not pleased; who would want to see the candid behind-the-podium shot of their guy (gal) standing on a box? McCain's team is considering lifts in his shoes instead.