Democrats say McCain’s move a stunt

Democrats blasted Sen. John McCain’s call for the presidential campaign to be suspended, with some describing it as little more than a political stunt. 

Several lawmakers said it is not necessary to suspend the campaign in order to deal with the Bush administration’s call for Congress to approve a $700 billion plan to bail out troubled financial firms.

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“I think it's the longest Hail Mary in the history of football or Marys,” said Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who has been the House’s lead negotiator with both the Senate and the administration on the bailout package.

Even Democrats who admit they are still taking in the implications of both the bill and of failing to act saw McCain's (R-Ariz.) decision as purely political.

“They’re not mutually exclusive,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), the Democratic Caucus chairman, of the upcoming debate and work on the bailout. “It’s not like canceling the debate will help to resolve this.”

“That’s absurd,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), a senior House Democrat. “Does he think because there's a financial crisis we should cancel the election?”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declined to comment, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) issued a statement saying the presidential debate on Friday should go forward. He said it would not be helpful to inject presidential politics into the negotiations House and Senate members and the administration are now undertaking on the bailout plan.

Republicans, however, applauded McCain’s stance, and said leadership from the two presidential candidates was necessary for Congress to reach a deal.

“It shows leadership in a time of crisis and is a recognition that, unless McCain and Obama are participating, a resolution is unlikely,” said Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “I think it's the smart thing and the right thing.”

Speaking on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the suspension news as McCain’s idea and saluted him for it.

“Sen. McCain has just announced that he is willing to suspend his campaign, set politics aside and sit down with all sides to come to a solution to the looming threats to our economy,” McConnell said. “That’s really an outstanding idea. The threats to Americans and their homes, savings and retirements are really not a partisan problem, and it won't be fixed with a partisan approach.”

Alexander Bolton, Jared Allen and J. Taylor Rushing contributed to this report.