For Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), a 1973 graduate of the University of Mississippi, the real winner of Friday night's presidential debate was his alma mater.

But the first of three debates between Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and GOP nominee John McCain (R-Ariz.) almost didn't happen because of McCain's indecision over whether to attend, and Wicker on Saturday revealed he played a role in persuading McCain to appear.

Such a decision, Wicker said, would have been "a disaster."

"I understood what he was trying to do, but I never thought it would have been a good idea in the end not to do the debate, and I said that," Wicker said of McCain. "I sent word that he really should try to do this."