McCain pins bailout blame on Obama
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Republican presidential hopeful John McCain accused Barack Obama and his supporters of "infusing unnecessary partisanship into the process" that led to the defeat of a $700 billion rescue plan for Wall Street in Congress.
Republican John McCain accused presidential rival Barack Obama on Monday of helping sink a $700 billion rescue plan for Wall Street, but Democrats said McCain was deflecting attention from his own failures.
Obama said he believed a final agreement could still be reached after the surprise congressional rejection of the mammoth financial industry bailout, which sent the New York stock market reeling.
McCain and Obama said Congress should return to work on a new package immediately, but McCain took a shot at Democrats for its collapse.
“Our leaders are expected to leave partisanship at the door and come to the table to solve our problems. Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process,” McCain said during a campaign stop in Iowa.
A majority of House of Representatives Democrats supported the bailout proposal and the majority of House Republicans opposed it. Some Republicans were angered by a speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the vote that they viewed as partisan, party leaders said.
McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin was even sharper in his criticism of Obama after the House voted 228 to 205 against the plan, with 133 House Republicans opposed and 95 Democrats against it.
“Barack Obama failed to lead, phoned it in, attacked John McCain and refused to even say if he supported the final bill,” McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said in a statement after the vote.
“This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country,” Holtz-Eakin said.
McCain said last week he would put his campaign on hold in order to help craft a deal and threatened not to participate in Friday’s debate, although he eventually relented. But Democrats noted he had not brought enough Republicans on board to win passage.
“John McCain came to Washington, D.C., and he said that he was coming here to put things together. Well, things disintegrated when he was here,” Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York said on MSNBC.
McCain spent the weekend in Washington making calls to participants in the negotiations—but never traveled to Capitol Hill. Obama also talked to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and congressional leaders by phone, but continued campaigning.
“This is a moment of national crisis, and today’s inaction in Congress as well as the angry and hyper-partisan statement released by the McCain campaign are exactly why the American people are disgusted with Washington,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
“Now is the time for Democrats and Republicans to join together and act in a way that prevents an economic catastrophe,” Burton said.
Obama told a rally in Westminster, Colorado, after the vote that he thought a deal could still be reached.
“Today Democrats and Republicans in Washington have a responsibility to make sure that an emergency rescue package is put forward that can at least stop the immediate problems that we have so we can begin to plan for the future,” he said.
“Obviously this is a very difficult thing to do. It’s difficult because we shouldn’t have gotten here in the first place,” said Obama, who blamed “an era of greed” on Wall Street and irresponsibility in Washington for the crisis.
Obama has made gains in opinion polls in the last two weeks as the financial crisis unfolded, with voters saying they favor his leadership on economic issues. The Illinois senator now has a slight edge on McCain in many polls ahead of the Nov. 4 election.
McCain and Obama drew an audience of 52 million for their first debate, well below the 1980 record for a debate, Nielsen Media Research said.
Before the House vote, McCain told a rally in the crucial electoral battleground state of Ohio that Obama had watched from the sidelines during the negotiations.
“I put my campaign on hold for a couple days last week to fight ... for a rescue plan that put you and your economic security and your family and working Americans first,” the Arizona senator said.
“Senator Obama took a very different approach to the crisis our country faced,” he continued. “At first he didn’t want to get involved. Then he was ‘monitoring the situation.’ That’s not leadership, that’s watching from the sidelines.”