Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) abruptly announced that he was suspending his presidential campaign in order “to return to Washington to help forge an agreement on a proposed $700 billion bailout of financial institutions before Congress.” Top McCain aide Mark Salter told the Washington Post that McCain wanted to lock himself “in a room for the next 100 hours” with Sen. Barack Obama, congressional leaders and administration officials until they can “achieve some kind of consensus on something that will have the congress’s support.”
But lawmakers on Capitol Hill are not enthusiastic about the presidential candidates injecting themselves. Time’s Jay Newton-Small reported last night that “leaders from the left and the right rejected the idea of McCain and Obama taking over the talks”:
But leaders from the left and the right rejected the idea of McCain and Obama taking over the talks. When asked by reporters if he wanted McCain sitting in blow-by-blow negotiations Rep. Adam Putnam, the No. 3 House Republican, simply smirked, mute for ten seconds as reporters laughed. Democrats were more voiciferous in their rejection of McCain-Obama negotiations; New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Dem, both said if McCain had really cared where have he — and his staff — been in the negotiations thus far.
Putnam told Politico that “McCain and Obama were most valuable in speaking to the need for action rather than getting into the legislative details.” Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, indicated he didn’t want McCain’s help, pointing “McCain away from the House and toward the Senate.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said the candidates return would “not be particularly helpful.”
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), who is one of the chief negotiators of the bailout proposal, derided McCain’s “late entry into the negotiations“:
“McCain is Andy Kaufman in his Mighty Mouse costume – ‘Here I Come to Save the Day,'” Frank said as he left a Thursday morning caucus meeting with House Democrats, saying the Republican presidential candidate’s decision to enter the mix “is not helpful.”
“He hasn’t been involved,” Frank said. “He doesn’t know anything about it.”
Frank also mocked the idea that McCain could help with the details, quipping, “I guess if I wanted expertise there, I’d ask Sarah Palin.” One anonymous Republican ridiculed McCain’s plan to jump into negotiations, telling the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, “Daddy’s coming home.”