Democrats Slam McCain; McCain Agrees to Debate After All
September 26, 2008 - 10:58 AMThings were going just fine in Washington Thursday until Sen. John McCain arrived and torpedoed the near-deal. That's the gist of what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Friday morning.
Without mentioning the Republican presidential candidate by name, Reid made it clear whom he was talking about.
A deal was close yesterday, Reid said. “Then guess who came to town,” he continued. “And that (deal) completely fell apart.”
A short time after Reid spoke, McCain announced that he was resuming his campaign and would attend the Friday night debate with Sen. Barack Obama in Mississippi. Obama at the time was airborne – already on his way to Mississippi.
“The time is now for House Republicans to come to the negotiating table and for presidential politics to leave the negotiating table,” Reid said on Friday. “The insertion of presidential politics has not been helpful,” Reid said – twice.
“A few days ago I called on Sen. McCain to take a stand – let us know where he stands on the issue of the bailout. But all he had done is stand in front of the cameras. We still don’t know where he stands on the issue.”
However, Reid insisted that there will be a deal in the end. “We’re going to get this done and stay in session as long as it takes to get it done.”
Reid said he’s heard that “people who constructively engaged in the process were castigated in the Republican caucus by…a person who isn’t here a lot of the time, and the vehicle came off the tracks. And we had to put things back together at 8 o’clock last night.”
Sen. McCain on Wednesday announced he was suspending his campaign to come to Washington in the hopes of working out a deal to rescue Wall Street firms – and by extension, the nation’s credit market.
McCain said he would not attend the debate "until we have taken action to address this crisis," but he’s changed his mind.
On Friday, the McCain campaign said the senator “is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations."
The McCain campaign said after the debate, he will fly back to Washington to continue working on the financial crisis.
At Friday’s news conference, Reid asked if Republicans could really be serious about including in the rescue package items such as lowering the capital gains tax. (He gave a brief laugh of disbelief.) “Is that part of what this is all about?” Reid asked. “They’re going to have to become realistic,” he said of Republicans.
In the next breath, Reid noted that legislation is the art of compromise. He said if people put their heads together, they could produce an agreement “by midnight tonight.”
Reid also noted that there’s been a “degree of amazement” from the White House and Treasury Secretary Paulson “that people who run for elective office have constituencies that they have to take care of.”
Appointed officials such as Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke “are going to have to become more realistic,” he said.
Reid said the Senate will be in session on Saturday to vote on a continuing resolution, as well as an Amtrak bill.