>By STEVEN R. HURST-Associated Press Writer
Republican John McCain has maneuvered himself into a political dead end and has five weeks to find his way out.
Last Wednesday, McCain suspended his presidential campaign to insert himself into a $700 billion effort to rescue America’s crumbling financial structure. In so doing, he tied himself far more tightly to the bill than did his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama.
Then, as the bailout plan appeared ready for passage Monday in the House, McCain bragged that he was an action-oriented Teddy Roosevelt Republican who did not sit on the sidelines at a moment of crisis.
The implication: that he played a critical role in building bipartisan support for the unprecedented bailout.
“I went to Washington last week to make sure that the taxpayers of Ohio and across this great country were not left footing the bill for mistakes made on Wall Street and in Washington,” McCain said at a campaign rally in the swing state of Ohio.
Both he and Obama had insisted the plan originally proposed by the Bush administration be strengthened with greater oversight and regulation.
Within hours, however, the measure died in the House mainly at the hands of McCain’s own Republicans.
Initially, McCain went silent, choosing instead to send his chief economic adviser out with a statement that blamed Obama, claiming that the first-term Illinois senator had put his political ambitions ahead of the good of the country.
“This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country,” McCain senior policy adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin said.
It wasn’t long, however, before McCain told reporters in Iowa: “Now is not the time to fix the blame, it’s time to fix the problem.”
All in all, McCain might have been better served by staying out of the mess and above the fray.
If the congressional impasse leads to a credit crisis, “it’s not going to be good for McCain,” veteran Republican consultant John Feehery said…
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