Rivals Point Finger At Each Other On Economic Mess John McCain and Barack Obama are trying to convince voters they can lead the nation back to sound financial footing. Both say they want to see the details of the Bush administration's $700 billion bailout plan, but each is also blaming the other for the mess.

Rivals Point Finger At Each Other On Economic Mess

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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Andrea Seabrook. The economy looms over presidential politics again today. Both John McCain and Barack Obama are trying to convince voters they can lead the nation back to sound financial footing. Obama campaigned today in the important swing state of Florida, reaching out to key constituencies there.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Nominee): We've been spending some time focusing on women this week, because they're the ones who, I think, day in, day out are seeing some of the effects of this economy in the most intimate ways, you know, in terms of trying to pay the bills at the end of the month, trying to make sure that they've got enough money for child care when they have to go off to work, filling that gas tank.

SEABROOK: NPR's Debbie Elliott is just back from following the Obama campaign. And Debbie, how are the two candidates responding to this massive $700 billion bailout plan today?

DEBBIE ELLIOTT: Well, both have been saying that they're eager to see the details, but they do think it's important for the government to step in and try to shore up confidence in the markets. Both say they're eager to work with the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and Congress to craft a plan. And both say it's not the time for partisan politics. But then they turn around on the campaign trail and politically try to point the finger the other way. Let's listen to what Senator John McCain had to say in his radio address today.

(Soundbite of Senator McCain radio address)

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; Republican Presidential Nominee): People like Senator Obama have been too busy gaming the system and haven't ever done a thing to actually challenge the system. The crisis on Wall Street started in the Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling, and he was square in the middle of it.

SEABROOK: So, how did Senator Obama respond?

ELLIOTT: Well, he responds by saying, how can he blame me when he's been in Washington much longer than I have been? And he tries to paint Senator McCain as out of touch on the economy. Time and time again in his appearances this week, he's been repeating the comment that McCain made earlier in the week that the fundamentals of the economy are sound. Here's what he said today.

Senator OBAMA: There's only one candidate who's called himself, quote, "fundamentally a deregulator" when deregulation is part of the problem on Wall Street. ..TEXT: ELLIOTT: Now, he points to a recent article where McCain called for more rigorous competition in the health insurance market, and he points to McCain's support for private Social Security accounts. These are very touchy issues, certainly with retirees in Florida.

SEABROOK: And you were there in Florida this week with the Obama campaign. Important state, swing state. How's it going down there?

ELLIOTT: Certainly, a very tight race, and, you know, both campaigns putting emphasis there. Sarah Palin will actually be in Florida campaigning tomorrow for the Republican ticket.

SEABROOK: NPR's Debbie Elliott. Thanks, Debbie.

ELLIOTT: You're welcome.

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