Candidates Discuss Merits of Bailout Bill

September 28, 2008

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain on Sunday gingerly embraced a newly negotiated congressional deal for a $700 billion bailout of the hobbled financial industry.

"This is something that all of us will swallow hard and go forward with. The option of doing nothing is simply not an acceptable option," McCain said. Obama said he was inclined to back it "because I think Main Street is now at stake."

True to form after a week of posturing, both campaigns sought to take at least partial credit for the outcome. Obama said McCain did not deserve any pats on the back.

"Here are the facts: For two weeks I was on the phone everyday with (Treasury) Secretary (Henry) Paulson and the congressional leaders making sure that the principles that have been ultimately adopted were incorporated in the bill," Obama said in an interview on "Face the Nation" on CBS.

McCain said the latest version of the plan meets his insistence of an oversight body to monitor the treasury secretary and limits the compensation of executives of financial institutions applying for loans.

"Let's get this deal done, signed by the president, and get moving, because the real effect of this is going to restore some confidence, and get some credit out there, and get the economic system moving again, which is basically in gridlock today," McCain told "This Week" on ABC.

The measure would allow the government to buy defaulted mortgages and other distressed housing-related assets, many of them held by Wall Street banks, in an effort to keep the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression from spreading throughout the entire economy.

Obama predicted quick passage of the measure, which he said contained important consumer-friendly provisions he had supported.
"Today, thanks to the hard work of Democrats and Republicans, it looks like we have a rescue plan that includes these taxpayer protections," Obama said in remarks prepared for a Detroit rally. "And it looks like we will pass that plan very soon."

McCain made a show on Wednesday of "suspending" his campaign to return to Washington to help negotiate terms of a bailout agreement. He initially suggested that Friday's presidential debate be postponed if no deal was struck. But his campaign ads continued to air and McCain attended the debate even though there was no deal.

While McCain is not on a Senate committee involved with the financial crisis, he said Sunday he rushed back to Washington because he was not going to "phone in" his advice.

"I'm a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. I've got to get in the arena when America needs it," McCain said.

Republicans generally have said his participation helped prod the agreement. Democrats countered that his presence had little effect on the outcome and may have even delayed a deal.

"Whether I helped or hurt, I'll be glad to accept the judgment of history," McCain said.

McCain said he planned to return to full-time campaigning Monday.

Like McCain, Obama spent parts of several days in Washington because of the bailout talks. But he has returned to the trail and on Sunday he and running mate Joe Biden planned to attend a rally in Detroit, the home of the nation's auto industry. Michigan is a key battleground in the November.

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