Blunt, in Senate Run, Defends Vote for Wall St. Bailout

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), in the midst of a burgeoning Senate run that could see a hotly-contested Republican primary, said his initial vote to support the $700 billion Wall Street bailout was the right vote.

"Based on everything I knew at the moment, I believe we did the right thing to try to stabilize the economy," Blunt said during a radio interview Wednesday morning with the Chris Stigall Morning Show in Missouri. "When the president, the Secretary of the Treasury, the head of the Federal Reserve and the SEC come to you and say the worldwide economy is going to collapse in the next three weeks if something doesn't happen to get money into the system, I think you've got to take that very seriously."

Blunt announced that he intends to run for Senate next year, trying to keep the seat vacated by Sen. Kit Bond (R), who is retiring, in Republican hands. Blunt is likely, though, to face a primary challenge from former Secretary of State Sarah Steelman, who has indicated she would run a conservative primary challenge, and may make an issue of Blunt's support of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

"I knew that this was an incredibly hard vote from moment one," Blunt said. "It very likely did stabilize the financial industry in a way we don't understand. Even if you do prevent disaster and bad things continue to happen, nobody knows you prevented disaster."

Blunt touted his later vote against the disbursement of the second, $350 billion installment of TARP funds requested last month.

While still serving as the Republicans' whip in the House leadership last fall, Blunt was the key negotiator for the House GOP in the late-night negotiations on the financial industry rescue package.

Listen to the interview here.