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Obama, McCain campaigns: Starkly different first reactions to bailout bill's failure

September 29, 2008 |  1:26 pm

As the financial rescue plan went down in flames in the House and the big drop in the stock market accelerated, the initial reactions from the two presidential campaigns were dramatically different in tone and tenor.

Barack Obama delayed a rally in Westminster, Colo., to make calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

The Times' Maeve Reston was with the campaign, and she reports that when Obama eventually took the stage, he appealed for calm -- and sought to underscore his point with an analogy his audience might appreciate.

"There are going to be some bumps and trials and tribulations and ups and downs before we get this regulation package done," he said. "It’s important for the American public and for the markets to stay calm, because things are never smooth in Congress, and to understand that it will get done -- that we are going to make sure an emergency package is going to get put together because it is required for us to stabilize the markets."

After calling for Democrats and Republicans to "step up to the plate, get it done," he added: "It’s sort of like flying into Denver, you know you’re going to land, but it’s not always fun going over these mountains."

John McCain was traveling from an appearance in Ohio to one in Iowa as the bailout bill went down the tubes in the House. He'll be commenting soon, but Douglas Holtz-Eakin, his senior policy adviser, issued the following statement:

From the minute John McCain suspended his campaign and arrived in Washington to address this crisis, he was attacked by the Democratic leadership: Sens. Obama and [Harry] Reid, Speaker Pelosi and others.

Their partisan attacks were an effort to gain political advantage during a national economic crisis. By doing so, they put at risk the homes, livelihoods and savings of millions of American families.

Barack Obama failed to lead, phoned it in, attacked John McCain, and refused to even say if he supported the final bill.

Just before the vote, when the outcome was still in doubt, Speaker Pelosi gave a strongly worded partisan speech and poisoned the outcome.

This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country.

-- Don Frederick

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