A day after the historic Wall Street bailout failed in Congress, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama struggled on the presidential campaign trail to modify their tone, muting partisan blame and trying to make proposals on an issue so complex that few understand it.
The most dramatic difference in how they will handle the current impasse over the Wall Street meltdown is that they will both stay away from Washington.
McCain indicated he is not likely to rush back to Capitol Hill a second time, a tactic employed last week that was criticized by both Democrats and even some Republicans for drawing volatile presidential politics into the delicate financial negotiations.
"I'll do whatever is necessary. I don't know that that necessarily means go back to Washington, but I know it's a top priority," McCain told ABC News' Ron Claiborne in an interview. "I'll rely on the advice of some of my colleagues as to how I can be most effective. The last thing I want to do is go in and harm the process."
Watch ABC News' World News With Charles Gibson at 6:30 p.m. ET to Hear From Both Obama and McCain on the Economic Crisis and How Their Plans Will Affect Your Financial Future
McCain's decision to suspend his campaign last week and rush to the nation's capital to help solve the crisis may have cost him more than Obama, since the dramatic action failed to produce a solution.
But with the economic crisis now the overriding issue in the campaign, McCain denied that his election hopes are tied to Congress' ability to come to some kind of deal.
"If it were, I would be very optimistic," McCain told ABC News. "The important thing is to work together for Americans today. I can't frankly consider what effect this has on my political fortunes."
McCain, Obama Struggle to Convey Complex Economic Message
The candidates agreed on one thing today, that the federal government should raise the ceiling on bank deposits that will be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
The FDIC, created during the Great Depression, currently insures bank deposits up to $100,000. McCain and Obama both suggested that limit be boosted to $250,000 so that it would protect the finances of small businesses as well as of individual savers.
They also agreed on sparing the blame, sort of.
Obama, McCain Take Politics Out of Wall Street Bailout
Obama, speaking in Reno, Nev., Tuesday never once mentioned McCain's name in a speech and avoided some of the finger pointing that has become commonplace on the presidential campaign trail.
"There will be time to punish those who set this fire, but now is the moment for us to come together and put the fire out," Obama said.
In an interview with ABC News' John Berman, Obama said, " I think that right now, everybody needs to lower their rhetoric and just focus on getting the job done."
And McCain, just like his Democratic counterpart, never once uttered the name Obama while discussing the failed bailout vote during a business roundtable in Des Moines, Iowa.
When asked by ABC News to elaborate on his charge that Obama's actions helped defeat the bailout bill Monday, McCain demurred.
"I don't feel like trading insults with Sen. Obama or anyone else right now. Let's sit down together and work it out," McCain said.
Ad Wars Place Blame While Candidates Take High Road
Both presidential campaigns did, however, launch television ads attacking the other over Monday's failed vote.
Obama's ad charges that McCain will follow the same economic policies of the Bush White House, while McCain's warned that Obama's proposals would cost taxpayers $1 trillion in addition to the bailout.
McCain and Obama tried to spell out proposals for dealing with a problem that threatens, in President Bush's dire words Tuesday, to cause "lasting and painful" damage to the country's economy.
But the fiery rhetoric common to a national campaign entering the homestretch was noticeably absent.
"Normally with a crowd like today I would be tempted to give a big, rip roaring, rah rah speech," Obama told the crowd in Reno. "But we find ourselves in some special circumstances so I hope you'll bear with me."
Obama repeated his endorsement of an oversight board to keep an eye on the proposed $700 billion bailout, help homeowners threatened with foreclosure, and some way for taxpayers to get a return on the bailout.
Economy Takes Center Stage in Tight Presidential Race
If the mountain of mortgages the government would buy up in the rescue plan don't eventually regain enough value for the government to break even, Obama said he would institute a Financial Stability Fee on the financial services industry to recoup the government's losses.
McCain's proposal is to use an arcane fund that already exists.
"I was talking to the president this morning, and I recommended that the Treasury Exchange Stabilization Fund be used. That's $250 billion that Treasury has authority to use," which Sen. McCain said could translate into a trillion dollars to buy up toxic mortgages.
Obama also happened to mention that he spoke to Bush and told the Reno rally that he phoned the leaders of both parties urging them to agree on a deal.
The Democratic contender also gave a bipartisan scolding to the 228 House members who voted against the bailout Monday.
"To the Democrats and Republicans who opposed this plan [on Monday], I say step up to the plate, do that's right for the country," Obama said.
ABC News' John Berman, Ron Claiborne, Bret Hovell and Sunlen Miller contributed to this report.