ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Senator McCain has been adopting an aggressive tone toward Wall Street. And today, he backed away from more optimistic comments he made yesterday when he said the fundamentals of our economy are strong. Today in TV appearances and on the stump, he berated Wall Street.
Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee): You know, Americans put a lot of trust in the bankers and brokerage firms of Wall Street. They depend on the financial service sector to protect their savings, IRAs, 401(k)s, and pension accounts. But many leaders in finance have proven unworthy of that trust.
SIEGEL: McCain held a rally in Florida this morning, and then he flew to Ohio to meet up with his running mate, Sarah Palin. NPR's David Greene is also in Ohio, and David joins us now. McCain and Palin held a rally this afternoon. What was the message on the economy there?
DAVID GREENE: They did, Robert. And the message really was trying to connect with these Ohio voters, working families. Sarah Palin came out and said, you know, she drives by gas stations. She sees how high the gas prices are getting again. She knows it's become a luxury to even fill your car up.
And she said that John McCain is the guy who's going to fight for you when it comes to those sorts of struggles and also when it comes to your money that you have invested on Wall Street. She said that, if anyone is going to reform Wall Street and get tough and regulate, John McCain is their man.
SIEGEL: Now, the senator, as we've heard, has said in the past that he favors deregulation. Did he offer any specifics today of how he would tighten regulation on Wall Street?
GREENE: Some, I'd say some, not a lot. One thing he did talk about was that he feels there are too many federal agencies involved in monitoring the investment markets, and he feels like they need to be - regulation needs to be streamlined. And he said he also wants to make it much tougher.
But you're right. As you said, Robert, he's not known as a regulator. He's known as a deregulator. That's one issue that his campaign has been trying to confront. And they said that when McCain was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, he was a pragmatist. You know, he didn't like government regulation, but he turned to it when it came to industries like telecommunication at points when he thought that it was really worthwhile. But not a lot of specifics.
I've got to say, a lot of this event here in Ohio was taking down Barack Obama and suggesting that he is not the person to fight for them. Sarah Palin got up. She brought back Barack Obama's old comments about working families clinging to guns and religion and said that he's a candidate who will say one thing when he's in the presence of working families and another when he's out with donors in San Francisco. And John McCain noted that Barack Obama is on his way to a fundraiser in Hollywood with Barbara Streisand. And he said, I don't want to be there. I want to be here with you, the working people of Ohio.
SIEGEL: I want to ask you a question about the most talked about non-existent bridge in America. The McCain campaign and Governor Palin have been repeating the signature line that she said, thanks but no thanks for the bridge to nowhere. It's a line that multiple news organizations, including ours, have pointed out just isn't true. Did she say it again today?
GREENE: Well, it's been the most talked about until today. She did not bring it up at this event in Ohio, but the campaign did put out a lengthy memo explaining the so-called bridge to nowhere. And they basically argue that Sarah Palin did support it at one point.
In fact, the memo from the McCain campaign itself was that she had a spokesman during her run for governor who confirmed that she did support the bridge, but that in the end, in 2007, that she did actually say no and helped kill the project. So I think this is going to be an ongoing battle and, as you said, a topic that is going to be in the conversation as we go forward, no doubt.
SIEGEL: But the line came out of the stump speech today, you're saying?
GREENE: Today, no line, yeah. Not a mention of it today in Ohio.
SIEGEL: OK. NPR's David Greene in Vienna, Ohio. Thank you, David.
GREENE: Always a pleasure, Robert.
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