(MEMPHIS) - Barack Obama will arrive at the University of Mississippi - Oxford in about an hour, where he will spend the rest of the afternoon preparing for tonight's debate.
Before departing Washington this morning, Obama spoke to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and said that he is optimistic that an agreement on the Wall Street bailout proposal will be reached.
Although he plans to return to the capital tomorrow, Mississippi is where Obama said he needs to be tonight.
"My strong sense is that the best thing that I can do, rather than to inject presidential politics into some delicate negotiations, is to go down to Mississippi and explain to the American people what is going on and my vision for leading the country," he said aboard his campaign plane.
This afternoon, Obama will meet up with top advisors, including David Plouffe, David Axelrod, and Anita Dunn, who arrived early this morning.
Obama left his debate prep team behind in Clearwater, Florida yesterday when he flew to Washington to meet with President Bush. However, after the talks on the economy broke down, Obama decided to overnight in Washington, leaving his advisers in Florida.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton is doing his part to raise expectations for McCain's performance tonight, suggesting that the foreign policy focus of the debate is "McCain's professed area of expertise."
"The centerpiece of John McCain's campaign has been his more than a quarter century of experience in Washington learning about and debating foreign policy," Burton said in a e-mailed memo. "If he slips up, makes a mistake, or fails to deliver a game-changing performance, it will be a serious blow to his campaign."
For his part, McCain adviser Mark Salter tried to raise expectations for Obama, telling reporters today en route to Mississippi that McCain's goal tonight is "To do well against a guy who is a pretty good debater."