Opinion: Obama, McCain agree on economy; Bush to speak; debate in doubt

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(UPDATE: President Bush to address the nation at 6 p.m. Pacific on tonight on the financial crisis.)

Or at least the two candidates agree on the need to quickly take action.

The nation’s economic woes have been dominating the campaign trail in recent days, but today, presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain agreed to put out a joint statement on the economy and the proposed taxpayer bailout of financial firms.

According to Obama spokesman Bill Burton, Obama called the GOP nominee this morning seeking to put out a statement about their ‘shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal’ and urging Congress and the White House to quickly pass a bipartisan plan to deal with the nation’s economic crises.


McCain called the Democratic nominee back this afternoon and agreed, so the two campaigns are hammering out an agreement.

Meanwhile, McCain announced that he is halting his campaign and urged the first presidential debate, scheduled Friday, to be postponed because of the dire need to finalize such a plan.

In New York, where McCain is meeting ...

with world leaders in town for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, he announced:

Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative. I have spoken to Sen. Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me. I am calling on the president to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Sen. Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem. We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved. I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night’s debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.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. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so.

The White House welcomed McCain’s words. Per spokeswoman Dana Perino:

We welcome Sen. McCain’s announcement. We are making progress in negotiations on the financial markets rescue legislation, but we have not finished it yet. Bipartisan support from Sens. McCain and Obama would be helpful in driving to a conclusion. The financial market crisis is a big problem that requires a big solution, and solving this in a bipartisan way will help prevent economic damage spreading from Wall Street to all Americans.

Obama is expected to release his own statement shortly. But yesterday, he said that if negotiations stalled, he would return to Washington to help craft a resolution.

-- Seema Mehta

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