(Adds Bush staying in Washington for now)
By Matt Spetalnick
WASHINGTON, Sept 30 U.S. President George W.
Bush vowed on Tuesday to revive a $700 billion financial
bailout plan rejected by lawmakers, as he scrambled to contain
the fallout in world markets and save his own troubled legacy.
Looking grim-faced, Bush stood before the cameras at the
White House and insisted the rescue package was not dead a day
after the U.S. House of Representatives handed him the worst
legislative defeat of his nearly eight-year tenure.
With less than four months left in office, his approval
ratings low and his influence dwindling, Bush was unable even
to keep his own Republican party in line when the House voted
the bill down on Monday, sending stock prices plummeting. More
than 100 Republicans defied him and voted against the measure.
"I assure our citizens and citizens around the world that
this is not the end of the legislative process," Bush said,
promising redoubled efforts to save a plan aimed at curbing the
worst U.S. financial crisis since the Great Depression.
He warned that decisive action was needed or else the
economic damage could be "painful and lasting."
"Congress must act," Bush declared even as shockwaves from
U.S. financial upheaval continued spreading worldwide.
The White House later released a statement saying Bush had
spoken to the two presidential candidates, Democrat Barack
Obama and Republican John McCain, and both had agreed "this
critical issue needs to be addressed."
Bush will stay put in Washington "for as long as it takes
to get this done," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto. He
said Bush would not travel on Thursday -- despite news reports
he was due in Nevada to address a Republican governors meeting
-- and his plans for Friday were subject to change as well.
IS BUSH'S APPEAL ENOUGH?
But it was unclear whether Bush's latest appeal, just days
after Bush addressed the nation on the crisis, would be enough
from a president increasingly perceived as a lame duck.
Congressional leaders had agreed before Monday's vote on a
bipartisan compromise that would have allowed the Treasury
Department to buy up toxic assets from struggling banks.
Despite Bush's almost daily public pleas over the past
week, a joint meeting at the White House with McCain and Obama
and last-minute phone calls to dozens of lawmakers, the bill
still went down to defeat in the Democratic-controlled House.
It was stark evidence of Bush's declining clout on Capitol
Hill, where many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle,
especially those facing re-election, were spooked by polls
showing strong public opposition to the bailout.
This crisis is the last thing Bush needed in the twilight
of his presidency when his Republican party is battling to keep
the White House in the Nov. 4 election.
The U.S. economy has been on the ropes for months,
bordering on recession, and despite security gains in Iraq, the
war remains deeply unpopular with the American public.
Bush's approval ratings of around 30 percent are among the
worst of any modern U.S. president near the end of his term.
Surging energy prices and increasing home foreclosures have
also helped tarnish the public perception of his tenure.
Bush, who had long insisted the country's economic
fundamentals were strong, sounded a note of alarm on Tuesday as he
tried to use what has been called the "megaphone" of the
presidency to break the legislative deadlock.
"We're at a critical moment for our economy and we need
legislation that decisively addresses the troubled assets now
clogging the financial system," he said.
He said he understood the objections of some members of
Congress to the financial rescue package, but insisted, "The
reality is that we are in an urgent situation, and the
consequences will grow worse each day if we do not act."
(Additional reporting by Deborah Charles and Tabassum Zakaria;
Editing by Andrea Ricci and Cynthia Osterman)