"Now is a time to come together -- Democrats and Republicans -- in a spirit of cooperation for the sake of the American people," McCain and Obama said. "The plan that has been submitted to Congress by the Bush administration is flawed, but the effort to protect the American economy must not fail. This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country."
Congressional leaders have been working all week to refine the administration's bailout proposal, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, this evening also released a joint statement that they were trying "to make the proposal more accountable to taxpayers."
"Working in a bipartisan manner, we have made progress," the statement said. "We agree that key changes should be made to the administration's initial proposal. It must include basic good-government principles, including rigorous and independent oversight, strong executive compensation standards, and protections for taxpayers."
Bush believes a framework deal is getting close and Congress may get to vote late in the week, Stephanopoulos reported.
McCain said this afternoon he hoped to help bridge the divide as he announced a plan to "suspend" his campaign for several days -- meaning he would curtail rallies, pull advertising and seek to postpone a presidential debate scheduled for Friday in Mississippi so he could return to the Senate in Washington to help complete work on the bailout plan.
"I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people," McCain said, according to his prepared remarks. "All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so."
The McCain campaign suggested rescheduling Friday's debate on foreign policy for Thursday, Oct. 2, in turn pushing back a vice presidential debate scheduled for that date.
Democratic leaders initially told McCain he was not needed in Washington.
"It would not be helpful at this time to have them [the presidential candidates] come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation's economy," Reid said in a statement. "If that changes, we will call upon them."
Obama rejected McCain's idea to put the campaign on hold, suggesting it is a president's job to multi-task.
"I believe that we should continue to have the debate," Obama said. "It's my belief that this is exact time when the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess. And I think that it is going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once."
But Obama added he would be available if needed in Washington. And late today, Bush invited Obama to attend a meeting on the bailout Thursday afternoon in Washington, and Obama accepted the invitation, sources told ABC News' Jake Tapper.
For the second day in a row, Paulson and Bernanke went to Capitol Hill to make the administration's case for why Congress must pass the bailout plan.