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Bailout-Backing Democrat Faces Tough Re-Election

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Bailout-Backing Democrat Faces Tough Re-Election

Election 2008

Bailout-Backing Democrat Faces Tough Re-Election

Bailout-Backing Democrat Faces Tough Re-Election

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) voted in favor of the bailout package. He is now campaigning in his conservative home district and is doing a lot of explaining about his vote. He says his vote was initially very unpopular, but as the economy has unraveled, it has become less unpopular.


When Congressman Jim Marshall voted yes both times on the financial bailout package last week, he said he was willing to give up his seat over it. And now, as he and other members of Congress are back home campaigning they're getting an earful from voters. Marshall is a Democrat from Georgia and joins us from Macon. Congressman, what are you hearing? How unpopular has your vote proved to be back home?

Representative JIM MARSHALL (Democrat, Georgia): You know, I think the vote initially was very unpopular. I mean, it's just sort - the unpopularity of that particular issue was reflected by the mail and the emails that all of us were getting, the phone calls. But I think as things have unfolded as we've seen more and more market turmoil and then a awful lot of conversation among news media, you know what to do, etcetera, it's pretty apparent to people that we have to be doing something. And so the vote is becoming less unpopular. How much less unpopular I'm not sure.

BLOCK: And you won two years ago by a razor-thin margin.

Rep. MARSHALL: That's correct. Yeah, I've barely made it back a couple of years ago. And you know you wish for the country that this turmoil would stop, that we'd get back on the solid footing. But the turmoil has permitted people to see a little bit more clearly what the problem is and why we need to address it.

BLOCK: Well, your vote - your yes vote did come up repeatedly in a debate yesterday and your opponent the Republican Rick Goddard hammered you for your vote. Let's listen to an excerpt. This is from local TV station WNAZ.

Mr. RICK GODDARD (2008 Congressional Candidate, Georgia): You know, when I walked around this state, 90 percent of the people said we don't like this bill. Also, seven of the Republican congressmen, all seven Republican congressmen in Georgia voted against it as well as two Democratic members. They heard the message from Georgians and apparently Jim did not.

BLOCK: Congressman Marshall, your opponent says you're a friend of Wall Street. You're not listening to Georgia voters.

Rep. MARSHALL: Well, you're in a situation here that this country has not been in my lifetime. And it's not absolutely clear what to do but Warren Buffett and others described this as a Pearl Harbor, and the greatest failure is the failure to try. And so we're trying, and I think people will accept that. I think the number of people who - or vehemently opposed to government intervention is diminishing. And you know when we try something, we'll either get it right or wrong, we're going to try something else. It's terribly important that we instill confidence in credit markets and all of the political squabbling that's been associated with this particular effort is not been helpful to that cause.

BLOCK: You may remember, congressman, that 10 days ago - a week ago, Monday, I was interviewing you, you just voted yes on the first bailout package. It looked like it would pass. And then in the middle of that conversation we learned that bill had in fact been defeated and that the stock market was tanking. And you said - after you said, oh, my God, you said that you hoped that the terrible problems that were predicted wouldn't happen. If you look at what happen now, you ended up passing a bill and terrible things are happening anyway.

Rep. MARSHALL: Well, the bill we passed contemplates action that has not yet occurred. It's just been taking a little while to get all of that together. And the process that we went through to pass the bill and all of the squabbling, as I said just a minute ago, has certainly not added to the confidence of the markets that the government in a position, understands what's going on, and is on a position to confidently come in and help with this issue. And so, I think people are in disarray generally - of course people are worried about their savings, their retirement etcetera, and still we have financial institutions not trusting one another and consequently we have major credit crisis that is causing ordinary businesses that should not be suffering - to suffer - and people are seeing that as well.

BLOCK: Do you think...

Rep. MARSHALL: It's going to take sometime.

BLOCK: So you think it will turn around.

Rep. MARSHALL: Oh, I'm sure, it will turn around. I think we'll be able to get the financial situation calmed down and then ultimately under control much more quickly than we'll be able to calm down the problem in the underlying economy that's been caused in part by this financial situation.

BLOCK: Congressman Marshall, thanks very much for talking with us.

Rep. MARSHALL: Thanks, Melissa.

BLOCK: Jim Marshall is a Democratic congressman from Georgia.

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