Brad Haynes reports on the presidential race.

With John McCain calling to cancel Friday’s presidential debate and the host university pressing forward with preparations, two third party candidates have offered to step in so the show can go on.

Barack Obama has dismissed McCain’s call to delay Friday’s debate, but that didn’t stop independent candidate Ralph Nader and the Libertarian Party’s Bob Barr from contacting the scheduled host, Jim Lehrer, and offering themselves as stand-ins. “There are two other candidates that cover a wide girth of real estate across the political spectrum who have fresh approaches on how to deal with the economic challenges facing our country,” a spokesman wrote on behalf of Nader and Barr.

Both candidates have seized on the latest Wall Street crisis and the proposed $700 billion rescue plan as evidence of their prescience. “I told you so,” scolded Barr in one recent release, criticizing the series of bailouts from the Bush administration and accusing McCain of betraying the free market principles that once defined the GOP.

Nader was on Capitol Hill Tuesday criticizing the influence of big business in government – what he calls “the corporate fascism dominating Washington.” He called the recent exchanges before the congressional committees “stampede hearings” meant to scare members of Congress into ceding their constitutional authority. “Look at the dictatorial demand by Bush and Paulson for total authority, total immunity, and zero judicial review. This is fascism — to bail out Wall Street.”

After decades of calling for greater oversight of financial markets, holding conferences to voice concerns about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and – as recently as July – warning that the federal government’s bank insurance fund could be insufficient, the current financial crisis is bittersweet vindication for Nader. “You can be right and right and right,” he said. “If you’re right in sports prediction, if you’re right in business prediction, you get all kinds of awards. We don’t even get quoted.”

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