JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Wall Street turmoil underscores the need to overhaul "the outdated and ineffective patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight in Washington," Republican presidential contender John McCain said Monday.
In a statement issued in advance of market openings, the Arizona senator said he agreed there should be no taxpayer-financed bailout of Lehman Brothers even as the investment banking giant faced the specter of liquidation. Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch was selling itself to Bank of America for less than half of the iconic brokerage firm's recent value.
"It is essential for us to make sure that the U.S. remains the pre-eminent financial market of the world. This will be a highest priority of my administration. In order to do this, major reform must be made in Washington and on Wall Street," McCain said in his statement.
He added: "The McCain-Palin administration will replace the outdated and ineffective patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight in Washington and bring transparency and accountability to Wall Street. We will rebuild confidence in our markets and restore our leadership in the financial world."
Over the weekend, advisers both to McCain and Democratic rival Barack Obama said they did not favor a government bailout of Lehman Brothers like that previously provided to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The government also help engineer the recent sale of Bear Stearns Cos. to J.P. Morgan & Co.
"I am glad to see that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have said no to using taxpayer money to bailout Lehman Brothers, a position I have spoken about throughout this campaign," said McCain. "We are carefully monitoring the financial markets, including the duress at Lehman Brothers that is the latest reminder of ineffective regulation and management. Efforts must also be focused on ensuring that the deposits of hardworking Americans are protected."
The financial turmoil threatened to overshadow two events on McCain's schedule not seen in weeks: a solo campaign rally and a town hall meeting.
The Republican presidential contender visited the city where he once commanded a Navy squadron for his first individual rally since announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate over two weeks ago. Then he was flying to Orlando to take questions from an audience for the first time since a session in Las Cruces, N.M., before he accepted his party's nomination at the Republican National Convention.
Since parting with Palin last week, McCain has held a business round-table discussion, attended 9/11 memorial events and traversed New York for a Time magazine forum and appearances on "The View" and "The Rachel Ray Show." He spent Saturday working at his campaign headquarters in Virginia and Sunday attending a NASCAR race in New Hampshire.
Aides said they expected a sizable turnout for the Jacksonville rally, a special wish after Palin drew 10,000 people Saturday in Carson City, Nev., during her first solo rally outside Alaska, where she is governor. Palin has reinvigorated McCain's campaign with supporters drawn by her "hockey mom" persona and down-home speaking style.
But McCain's rallies with Palin have been tightly scripted, with McCain referring to note cards and Palin reprising lines from the speech in which she accepted the GOP's vice presidential nomination.
The effort appears to have paid off, with McCain taking a slight lead over Democrat Barack Obama in national polls.
McCain also holds a lead over Obama in Florida and he is counting on high turnout from partisans and military veterans in the state's northeastern corner on Election Day. McCain was holding a fundraiser in Miami on Monday night and a rally in Tampa on Tuesday, highlighting his other state targets.