ABC pundits slam McCain's handling of financial crisis
David Edwards and Andrew McLemore
Published: Sunday September 21, 2008

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How did McCain look during the financial meltdown on Wall Street this week?

Not good, said the pundits on ABC’s This Week, who criticized the Republican presidential candidate’s response to the worst economic crisis in years as inept and confused.

Much of the disapproval centered on what the guests claimed was a lack of presidential poise and leadership as McCain faced a $700 billion proposal from the Bush administration to bail out Wall Street.

"I suppose the McCain campaign's hope is that when there's a big crisis, people will go for age and experience," George Will said. "The question is who in this crisis looked more presidential, calm and unflustered. It wasn't John McCain, who, as usual, substituting vehemence for coherence said let's fire somebody and picked one of the most experienced and conservative people in the administration."

Cokie Roberts compared McCain's optimism about the American economy – he said the "fundamentals of our economy are strong" days before the financial fallout -- to former Republican President Herbert Hoover.

Hoover also praised the economy after bank failures and job layoffs, saying "the fundamental business of the country… is on a sound and prosperous basis."

The Great Depression followed soon after.

"He’s a Republican and whenever Republicans get into this kind of mess… the specter of Herbert Hoover comes out to haunt them," Roberts said.

Sam Donaldson cited McCain’s past voting record as contradictory to his current claims of tough regulation and wondered if the senator was "getting his talking points confused."

"I think the question of McCain’s age is back on the table," Donaldson said.

Polls have shown more voters trust Sen. Barack Obama with the economy, though others show McCain on top when voters were asked which candidate could better handle a crisis.

But a Democratic pollster said Obama’s position could improve if the economic crisis worsens.

"Obama is in a position to improve his poll numbers, given the confidence in his handling of the economy," said Tom Eldon of Schroth, Eldon & Associates.

This video is from ABC's This Week, broadcast September 21, 2008.

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