NEW YORK — Republican John McCain said Wednesday he wants to delay Friday's debate with Democratic rival Barack Obama and temporarily put aside their partisan campaign to resolve the nation's financial crisis.
McCain's announcement came after the two candidates held private talks about joining forces to address the Wall Street meltdown. The Obama campaign said the Democrat initiated the talks, but McCain beat Obama to the punch with the first public statement calling for the two to rise above politics in a time of crisis.
McCain said the Bush administration's plan seemed headed for defeat and a bipartisan solution was urgently needed.
McCain said he would put politics aside and return to Washington Thursday to focus on the nation's financial problems after addressing former President Clinton's Global Initiative session in New York. McCain said he wants President Bush to convene a leadership meeting in Washington that would include him and Obama.
"It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the administration's proposal," McCain said. "I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time."
McCain said he has spoken to Obama about his plans and asked the Democratic presidential nominee to join him.
Obama's campaign did not immediate say whether he supported a delay of the debate or would also stop campaigning.
The Obama campaign said in a statement that Obama had called McCain around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to propose that they issue a joint statement in support of a package to help fix the economy as soon as possible. McCain called back six hours later and agreed to the idea of the statement, the Obama campaign said. McCain's statement was issued to the media a few minutes later.
"We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved," McCain said. "I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so."
McCain said if Congress does not pass legislation to address the crisis, credit will dry up, people will no longer be able to buy homes, life savings will be at stake and businesses will not have enough money
"If we do not act, ever corner of our country will be impacted," McCain said. "We cannot allow this to happen."
McCain also canceled his planned appearance Wednesday on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" program.