Obama and McCain Express Cautious Support for Bailout

Barack Obama speaks in Detroit. Obama said John McCain's support for deregulation helped cause the financial crisis.
Barack Obama speaks in Detroit. Obama said John McCain's support for deregulation helped cause the financial crisis. (By Alex Brandon -- Associated Press)
By Michael D. Shear and Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, September 29, 2008

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama expressed cautious support for a $700 billion bailout of the nation's biggest financial institutions, though both reserved the right to change their minds after they have reviewed details of the hastily arranged deal.

The candidates made their comments as both prepared to return to the campaign trail after an odd week in which electioneering was interrupted by the economic crisis, McCain's brief pledge to suspend his campaign and the first debate between the two candidates.

Both camps now turn their attention to Thursday's debate between the vice presidential candidates, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. The debate is sure to prompt particular interest in the performance of Palin, whose limited exposure to tough questions has been criticized by opponents and supporters alike.

McCain's campaign announced that Palin will step off the trail entirely tomorrow and Wednesday as she prepares for her most significant unscripted event of the campaign.

On the economic bailout, McCain said on ABC's "This Week" that he will "swallow hard and go forward" with the plan, adding that it is time to "get this deal off the table, let's get this to the president."

McCain, who returned to Washington last week to help Congress reach a deal, said yesterday that "the option of doing nothing is simply not an acceptable option."

Obama called the need for a bailout "the culmination of a sorry period in our history, in which reckless speculation and greed on Wall Street and lax oversight from Washington led to a meltdown of our financial markets."

Obama said that as president he would order a review of the bailout plan to ensure it meets the principles he sought, including strict oversight and limits on executive pay. But he said a failure to approve the proposal would have "devastating consequences" for the U.S. economy.

"When taxpayers are asked to take such an extraordinary step because of the irresponsibility of a relative few, it is not a cause for celebration," Obama said. "But this step is necessary."

The campaigns continued to squabble over the extraordinary scene of last week's White House meeting on the economy and the sometimes angry negotiations over the bailout package, which culminated in a deal early yesterday.

McCain explained on ABC that he "came back because I didn't want to phone it in. I won't claim a bit of credit if that makes them feel better."

But Democrats noted that McCain spent very little time on Capitol Hill talking directly with lawmakers, instead preferring to work the phones from his Crystal City headquarters.

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