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McCain talks money

John McCain points to a supporter Friday afternoon during a Minnesota campaign rally. His running mate, Sarah Palin, is behind him.

BLAINE -- John McCain's Minnesota visit Friday was one part traditional campaign rally and one part economy rescue proposal, with a strong emphasis on the latter.

In a short and somber speech to thousands in a northern Twin Cities suburban airplane hangar, McCain laid out a plan he said would help repair economic problems that have dominated the news -- and the presidential campaign -- this week.

For one thing, the Republican presidential candidate wants to establish a federal agency to deal with the mortgage crisis and other financial institutions' problems. He also seeks to open the dealings of financial institutions to greater public scrutiny.

He announced his plan in speeches in Blaine, a suburb full of independent-minded voters, and Green Bay, Wis.

The rally, which campaign organizers said attracted 13,000 people, was more subdued than most rallies because the Arizona senator's 16-minute speech mostly was about the country's economic woes.

Accompanying McCain, and drawing a large crowd response, was his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. She ventured into territory other than the economy, beginning with foreign affairs, where Democrats say she lacks experience.

McCain called for formation of what he called the Mortgage and Financial Institutions Trust, an agency to be "an early intervention mechanism that will help financial institutions avoid bankruptcy and expensive bailouts." It would protect both the institutions and their customers, McCain said, by taking over troubled loans.

McCain said he warned two years ago that trouble was afoot.

"The financial crisis we're living through today started with the corruption and manipulation of our home mortgage system," McCain said. "At the center of the problem were the lobbyists, politicians and bureaucrats who succeeded in persuading Congress and the administration to ignore the festering problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," two major mortgage holders.

"Congress did nothing," McCain added. "The administration did nothing. Sen. Obama did nothing."

McCain, a 26-year Senate veteran, said Obama has not worked to change the system like he has.

"People like Sen. Obama have been too busy gaming the system and haven't ever done a thing to actually challenge the system," McCain said.

Obama on Friday met with economic advisors to draw up a plan dealing with events of recent days, but said he would not lay out his own plan until he had a chance to look over one being prepared by the Bush administration.

"It is critical at this point that the markets and the public have confidence that their work will be unimpeded by partisan wrangling, and that leaders in both parties work in concert to solve the problem at hand," Obama said.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.