The atmosphere on the Square Wednesday afternoon at the Obama Rally was that of outrage and disappointment from Oxford, Miss.citizens who are still trying to search for an ounce of hope that Fridays debate will go on as planned.
Holding a white and blue sign with McCain/Bailin written on it, Alexis Culver, 25, said when she heard the news about McCains proposal to postpone the debate from her brother, she was completely shocked.
What could possibly, strategically be his reason for doing this? Culver asked. It seems to me that he clearly cant do anything about the economy. His party doesnt control Congress. My first reaction was WTF! What is he doing?
If the debate were to be postponed or even canceled, Culver said it would be detrimental to the university and the city.
It would be infuriating, the University of Mississippi law student said. Ive been having to walk to class and go to class two hours early to get a parking spot and stuff like that. Weve all made huge sacrifices for this. If theres no payoff, it would be infuriating.
McCains decision to postpone the debate was announced Wednesday afternoon in response to the nations current economic crisis. But the senators last minute decision is not stopping the city of Oxford from continuing with its plans.
Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth said as far as he is concerned, the city is not making any changes and is preparing to host a full debate until there is an official decision made by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Were going to continue to be ready, Howorth said. Were going to hope McCain will change his mind sometime in the next 24 hours. Obviously he made a decision based on the news of the moment and that news can change over the next moment.
Howorth said if there is a decision to postpone the debate, he hopes that Oxford will still be the location for this years first presidential debate. He is trying not to think about the possibility that there will be no debate, however.
We hope that they will reschedule the event here in Oxford, Howorth said. We understand. Were not mad. We just want our debate.
As far as re-accommodating the media and others who have traveled into Oxford, Max Hipp, president for the Oxford Chamber and Economic Development Foundation and sponsor of the debate private housing effort, said there are no immediate plans.
We remain optimistic that the debate will happen as scheduled, Hipp said. We will continue to follow the direction of the University of Mississippi in supporting the debate private housing effort. At this time we cannot speculate as to how a cancellation or rescheduling of the presidential debate might affect the local housing efforts.
Assistant Oxford Police Chief Joey East said the police department is still planning for Friday until further notice.
We were prepared for it to go on ahead and had everybody in place, East said. If they pulled away today then we would just fill in where they needed us.
I think it would probably be a little easier on the police department because there wouldnt be as many people in town, he said. But it would be devastating to the university and the city for the money that theyve spent.
In the event that McCain does not show up on Friday, East said his department is prepared to handle any riots or rallies that might break out.
Were prepared for whatever comes, he said. We pray to the lord that it dont happen, but were prepared for whatever comes along.
But East said he still believes both candidates will be present Friday.
We feel like McCains going to come and Mr. Obama isgoing to come and its going to be scheduled as planned until we hear otherwise, he said.
Howorth said he is also hoping for the best outcome.
Well (my reaction) was sort of like everyone elses here: Say it aint so, he said.
In a way I still dont quite believe it, so Im waiting to hear better news, different news and better news.