McCain Says There ‘Never Was A Deal’ On Wall
WASHINGTON (AFP)–Republican White House hopeful Sen. John McCain denied Thursday there ever had been any deal in place between Congress and the White House on a $700-billion Wall Street bailout plan.
McCain said on ABC News after talks at the White House that also included his Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama that he still hoped to go to the scheduled presidential debate Friday night in Mississippi.
But his senior campaign adviser Steve Schmidt accused Obama of putting himself before his country, by continuing to run campaign ads while the high-stakes political drama over the economic crisis was playing out.
McCain said he knew going into the White House meeting called by President Bush that there was no deal, after having said Wednesday the debate should be canceled if a bailout wasn’t secured.
“I knew going in, because I had been over on the House side with my House Republican colleagues, there never was a deal,” McCain said. “But I do believe the meeting was important to move the process along.”
Democrats accused McCain of unhelpful grandstanding and poisoning the process with presidential politics by putting his campaign on hold and returning to Washington, with a deal apparently almost in place.
But Schmidt said McCain was working to persuade enough lawmakers to support the package.
“The problem right now is that any rescue package has to pass by a majority vote,” Schmidt told reporters outside McCain’s campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va.
“There is not yet a majority of Democrats or Republicans who are willing to vote yes for anything,” he said. “The votes at this hour do not yet exist.”
Schmidt also accused Obama of buying up time vacated by McCain on TV networks for campaign advertisements, when the Republican made up his mind to pull down his ads Wednesday.
“It is an example once again of Sen. McCain putting his country first, while Senator Obama puts Senator Obama first,” Schmidt said.