Obama Backs Bernanke, Paulson On Bailout

Barack Obama offered his support for the proposals by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to stabilize the financial markets. In listing this week's economic woes, Obama included John McCain's support for the Bush administration's policies.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris. Today, for the presidential candidates, as it's been all week, the agenda was dictated by the old phrase, "it's the economy, stupid." Both John McCain and Barack Obama again addressed voter anxiety over the growing financial crisis, and both were in key battleground states. McCain in Wisconsin and Minnesota and Obama in Florida. We'll hear more on the McCain campaign in just a few minutes. But first, at a Women for Obama rally in Coral Gables, Florida, the Illinois senator ran through a laundry list of economic problems.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Presidential Nominee): We've seen three of America's five largest investment banks fail or be sold out in distress. Our housing market is in shambles. Monday brought the worst losses on Wall Street since the day after September 11th. Everywhere you look, the economic news is troubling.

NORRIS: NPR's Debbie Elliott is with the Obama campaign in Coral Gables. Hello, Debbie.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT: Hello there, Michele.

NORRIS: There's growing evidence that the economic woes seemed to have handed the Obama campaign an issue that they can really run with.

ELLIOTT: Yes. And certainly, that was the subject today before Obama, as we heard here at the rally at the University of Miami. Earlier today, he gathered with some economic advisers in a room before coming out to the rally. And he came out and told reporters that he thinks that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke should be given as broad authority as necessary to stabilize the markets and maintain credit. But he also said that you can't bail out Wall Street if you don't do something for Main Street. And he said that any economic recovery plan should include some sort of emergency stimulus that would help families, that would help struggling homeowners, help cities and states, maybe spend some more money on infrastructure to jump-start jobs, and he even talked about some assistance possibly for the auto industry.

NORRIS: Debbie, Obama had called for putting politics aside at this time of crisis on Wall Street. But how much time did he spend today actually talking about politics?

ELLIOTT: Well, a good bit of time talking about politics. He came out and said, you know, we can't have drivers who will drive us into a ditch. He pointed to his opponent, John McCain, and said, you know, John McCain's big solution for this economic crisis is to blame me for the problems. He said, this is a guy who's been in Washington, D.C. for 23 years and now he's trying to assign the blame to me, a guy who's only been here for four years. So clearly, he was trying to score some political points against his opponent.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Debbie Elliot with the Obama campaign in Coral Gables, Florida. Thanks so much, Debbie.

ELLIOTT: Thank you.

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