Sen. John McCain suspended his presidential campaign to return to Washington to deal with the economic crisis unfolding on Capitol Hill and Wall Street.
“America this week faces an historic crisis in our financial system,” the Republican nominee said in a statement. “We must pass legislation to address this crisis. If we do not, credit will dry up, with devastating consequences for our economy.”
McCain said he would not participate in the first presidential debate, scheduled for this Friday in Mississippi. He also said he would stop running political ads.
UPDATED: Sen. Barack Obama rejected McCain’s call to postpone the debate, saying "it’s more important than ever" that the nation hears the presidential candidates.
"It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess," Obama said at a news conference in Florida. "It’s going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once."
McCain said he was calling on President Bush to convene a meeting on the economy with congressional leaders and both presidential candidates. President Bush was scheduled on Wednesday night to speak to the nation about the economic crisis in a prime-time address.
The move by McCain came as the Bush Administration was trying to sell its $700 billion bailout plan to skeptical members of Congress.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson accepted a major change in the bailout plan by agreeing to limit the pay packages of executives whose companies benefit from the proposed bailout, according to the Associated Press.
The economic turmoil has boosted Obama in the latest round of polling. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday showed the Democratic nominee opening up a 52% to 43% among likely voters. Two weeks ago, immediately after the Republican convention, McCain led Obama 49% to 47%.