McCain suspending campaign over Wall Street plan

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Wednesday he will break off from campaigning to help on a Wall Street rescue plan and asked that a Friday night debate with Democratic rival Barack Obama be postponed.

McCain, in a statement to reporters, said he would suspend his campaign on Thursday to return to Washington and called on Obama to join him, saying he had spoken to the Democrat about doing so.

He said he did not believe a current $700 billion banking rescue plan proposed by the Bush administration would pass the U.S. Congress in its current form. He urged President George W. Bush to call for a bipartisan meeting of congressional leaders, including him and Obama, to try to find an agreement.

“It’s time for both parties to come together to solve this problem,” the Arizona senator said. “We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved.”

He added: “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.”

McCain and Obama, an Illinois senator, face off in the presidential election on November 4.

McCain said it was essential to pass legislation to deal with what he called a “historic crisis.”

“If we do not, credit will dry up, with devastating consequences for our economy. People will no longer be able to buy homes and their life savings will be at stake. Businesses will not have enough money to pay their employees. If we do not act, ever corner of our country will be impacted. We cannot allow this to happen,” he said.

The Bush administration is pressing Congress to approve the rescue plan, saying it is needed to avert serious consequences for the financial industry and the wider economy.