McCain Grudgingly Supports Rescue Plan
SCOTT HORSLEY: And I'm Scott Horsley in Washington, where John McCain offered grudging support for the federal government's huge financial rescue plan. McCain told ABC's "This Week", the plan should help to restore confidence in the economy and get credit flowing again, justifying its $700-billion price tag.
Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona, Presidential Nominee): 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.
HORSLEY: Last week, McCain dramatically left the campaign trail to return to Washington as the rescue plan was being negotiated. Campaign aides say McCain made that move after a meeting with economic advisers, in which he was warned about an impending Pearl Harbor of the financial system. ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked McCain, whether he thought his detour to Washington made a difference to the final compromise.
Mr. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (ABC): So what role did you play? How will you - how well do you believe in the process?
Senator MCCAIN: I will let you and others make - be the judge of that. I did the best that I could. I came back because I wasn't going to phone it in.
HORSLEY: In fact, McCain spent much of Saturday on the phone talking with Republican lawmakers and trying to rally support for a rescue package. He avoided endorsing any particular rescue plan, and he steered clear of the Capitol and the White House, perhaps to avoid becoming a lightning rod again.
He'd found himself in just that role last Thursday, when his arrival in Washington coincided with an apparent breakdown in negotiations. Since then McCain himself has avoided taking credit for any compromise. But campaign advise Steve Schmidt was not so shy during an appearance yesterday on NBC's "Meet The Press."
Mr. STEVE SCHMIDT (Campaign Adviser): What Senator McCain was able to do was to help bring all of the parties to the table, including the House Republicans whose votes were needed to pass this.
HORSLEY: At the urging of the House Republicans, the rescue plan now includes an alternative, in which the government would offer insurance for risky mortgage-backed securities instead of buying them outright. It's not clear whether that addition will have any practical effect, but by making the measure more politically palatable. It allows the rescue to go forward, and allows McCain to get back on the campaign trail. Scott Horsley, NPR News Washington.