Thursday, September 25, 2008

No Settlement Yet

McCain, Obama face to face at White House

By Steve Holland, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters)- After months of tossing charges at each other, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama came face to face at the White House on Thursday in high-stakes talks over a Wall Street bailout plan and their first debate hanging in the balance.

McCain emerged hopeful that progress on a $700 billion rescue of the financial industry would allow him to attend a debate with Obama on Friday in Oxford, Mississippi.

Obama said he would be there whether McCain was or not.

He suggested McCain was injecting presidential politics into negotiations over the rescue plan, one of many Democrats to howl about the Arizona senator's abrupt suspension of his campaign to return to Washington to insert himself into the debate.

"The concern that I have ... is that when you start injecting presidential politics into delicate negotiations, then you can actually create more problems rather than less," Obama told a news conference.

McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt shot back that it was the top Democrat in the Senate, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who had said McCain's help was needed to help corral Republican support for the plan.

The presidential campaign played out across Washington, from Capitol Hill to the White House to the television cameras a day before the first presidential debate is scheduled to take place.

McCain said progress was being made and he expressed confidence that a deal would be reached. Aides said he was working the phones to gain the support of Republicans uneasy about the cost of the $700 billion bailout.

"I'm very hopeful that we'll have enough of an agreement tomorrow that I can get to Oxford ... I understand how important this debate is and I'm very hopeful but I also have to put the country first," McCain told CBS News.

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