As the turmoil in financial markets continued, the U.S. presidential candidates weighed in on economic issues Monday, with both promising to take decisive steps to prevent the Wall Street meltdown from turning into a global crisis.
Speaking at a campaign rally in the swing state of Florida, Republican John McCain promised an overhaul of mortgage and securities regulations would be an early priority if he and his running mate Sarah Palin are elected in November.
"The McCain-Palin administration will replace an outdated, patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight and bring transparency and accountability to Wall Street," the Arizona senator said.
Later, McCain told reporters that the Bush administration and Democrats in the U.S. Congress were both to blame for the mess.
"I think it's a failure of government, and a failure of regulatory agencies," he said. "There’s plenty of blame to go around."
Obama faults McCain policies for crisis
Democratic candidate Barack Obama, a senator for Illinois, said he’d long been calling for tougher regulations of the U.S. financial industry, and McCain’s economic policies were the same as those that caused the crisis.
"I don’t fault Senator McCain for these problems, but I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to," Obama said in a statement, "It's a philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise, and one that says we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore economic problems until they spiral into crises."
Analysts say McCain and Obama are both being kept up to date on the latest aspects of the crisis.
Over the weekend, advisers to both men indicated that neither was in favour of a taxpayer-funded bailout of the Lehman Brothers investment bank, which filed for bankruptcy Monday to escape its exposure to billions of dollars in unsecured mortgage debt.
Campaign fallout from crisis unclear
Opinion polls give no clear indication which candidate might actually benefit from an economic crisis.
Obama’s policies on the economy have generally scored higher among voters than McCain, but his lead has been shrinking in recent weeks.
Also on Monday, McCain’s campaign released its latest television advertisement, which focuses on the economic turmoil on Wall Street.
It emphasizes that the Republican’s policy of lower taxes and offshore oil drilling will bring substantial relief to the U.S. economy, an assertion that Obama’s campaign immediately disparaged in a statement. "Today of all days, John McCain’s stubborn insistence that the fundamentals of the economy are strong shows that he is disturbingly out of touch with what’s going [on] in the lives of ordinary Americans," Obama’s spokesman Bill Burton said.