The clock continues to tick in Washington as Congress and the Bush Administration try and work out a bailout of the nation's financial systems. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain find themselves between a rock and a hard place – both want to seem in touch with voters' increasing concerns over the country's economic health and their apprehension over such a hefty price tag on this bailout plan. But they also want to show strength and leadership on the No. 1 issue on voters' minds. And/but they also are watching out of the corner of their eye at what the other guy is going to do.
And stop the presses…McCain held a press conference today.
Obama took questions from the press today as well, but he did so last Friday too. It's been forty days since McCain gave some straight talk to the press corps following him on the campaign trail, an unprecedented dry spell from the candidate who promised a weekly White House press conference if elected.
Both candidates started with opening remarks on the economy and offered up bullet points on what should happen with the bailout plan. But neither committed to voting for or against the bailout.
Obama framed the White House proposal as "stubborn inflexibility" from President Bush and said it is not time for "my-way-or-the-highway intransigence from anyone involved."
Per ABC News' Sunlen Miller, Obama's plan calls for: - The inclusion of protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to further reward the bad behavior of irresponsible CEOs on Wall Street.
- A set up of an independent board that includes some of the most respected figures in the country, chosen by Democrats and Republicans, to provide oversight and accountability at every step of the way. Obama says that Paulson cannot act alone on this.
-A call to return any profits made by the government on the plan directly returned to taxpayers in addition to a Financial Stability Fee – a small fee, starting after the economy is recovered that would help recoup any losses from the bailout.
- Providing assistance to help to families who are struggling to stay in their homes. Will Obama or McCain make the trip to Washington if there is a vote on the bailout this week?
Obama – who is preparing for Friday's debate for three days in Tampa – says that he will only come back to Washington to vote for the bill if it's a close vote, per Miller. "Well look if we get a consensus and everybody is popping champagne – then I will probably be going back to campaign with folks who are having a tough time in places like Ohio, and Michigan and Pennsylvania. If this ends up being a close vote or a vote where the outcome is an open question then obviously this is a top priority."
ABC News' Ron Claiborne asked McCain what he would do if the fate of the bill was in his hands, as Democrats on the Hill have suggested. The Republican nominee dismissed that notion, per ABC News' Bret Hovell.
"This issue should be - and their vote should be determined in how we can resolve this crisis and get America going again," McCain said. "This is a huge crisis. We know, in the words of many experts and mine. This is the greatest financial crisis since World War II. So to somehow for the Democrats to say that their vote is going to be gauged on my vote frankly doesn't do them a great deal of credit.
"Their first and only priority should be making sure this economy recovers and get back on our feet again," McCain said.