Bill Clinton was campaigning at the site of the canceled first presidential debate Tuesday while Democratic Chairman Ron Brown tore into President Bush for not showing up and Bush himself took off on a hastily arranged tour of six other states.
"I'm here, ready, willing and able," the Democratic nominee said while Brown went on network television to claim that Bush refused to debate because "he didn't want to face Bill Clinton.""I assume he can tell the pilot of Air Force One where to fly," Brown said on CBS "This Morning." "Instead of frenetically, frantically flying around to six states today, just landing at airports, he ought to fly to Lansing, Mich., and debate Bill Clinton."
Bush set off at daybreak for rallies in Missouri, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee. The six states have a total of 78 electoral votes, about one-quarter of the 270 needed to win.
The meeting with Clinton was canceled by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates after the president begged off, saying he disliked its single-moderator format. He wanted a panel of questioners.
"I'm not sure he would do poorly in that format, but they obviously think so," Clinton said in a Chicago TV interview.
Clinton appeared at a midday rally at Michigan State University, where the debate was supposed to take place.
With 42 days until the election, an ABC News-Washington Post poll showed Clinton's lead expanding for the third straight week. He was running ahead of Bush 58 percent to 37 percent, according to a survey of 637 likely voters.
The Republicans had their own strategy to keep Clinton from grabbing all the attention.
GOP National Chairman Rich Bond scheduled a news conference in East Lansing after Clinton's rally and argued that Clinton should debate himself, since there are so many issues he's been accused of waffling on.