NEW YORK (Reuters) - Republican presidential nominee John McCain got an update on the Wall Street financial crisis from several economic experts on Wednesday and was cautious on whether he would vote for a $700 billion bailout.
The Arizona senator said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, was wrong to say on Tuesday that McCain planned to vote for the hotly debated rescue plan.
“I did not say that,” McCain told reporters. Later, top McCain aide Mark Salter added: “He hasn’t said that to (Treasury Secretary Henry) Paulson or to Reid or to anybody else. He hasn’t said that to me.”
McCain’s comment came as he met with several economic experts and current and former corporate executives, such as Cisco CEO John Chambers, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman and former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain.
Neither McCain nor Democratic rival Barack Obama has said he would oppose the plan being negotiated with Congress, although both have been critical of it. Both are jockeying for position to try to project to voters strong leadership during the crisis, six weeks before the November 4 election.
“Most Americans feel very strongly that this isn’t their fault but it’s Wall Street and Washington and the cozy insider relationships that have caused a great part of the problems,” McCain said.
He said any package must have “transparency, accountability, CEO responsibility and obviously be in the best interest of the people (of) this country who are going to pay $10,000 per household in order to take the necessary measures to restore our confidence.”
While Obama was in Florida getting prepared for his first debate with McCain on Friday in Mississippi, McCain was engaged in a round of meetings with foreign leaders in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
The list included a joint session with the presidents of Georgia and Ukraine, both of whom are concerned about Russia after Moscow’s invasion of Georgia last month. He was also to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Editing by Eric Beech