Vice presidential nominee Joe Biden said Wednesday it took a financial crisis on Wall Street for Republican rival John McCain to finally realize the U.S. economy is in trouble.
Biden, speaking in suburban Toledo for the beginning of a two-day bus tour, chided McCain was a latecomer to realize the economy faced dire trouble. The Democrat said McCain's silence on the issue should give voters reasons to doubt the GOP presidential nominee.
"I think for the first time he realized what was going on," Biden said. "Where was he a week ago, a month ago?"
Stocks on Wednesday skidded again as the government bailed out insurance giant American International Group Inc. The Federal Reserve is giving a two-year, $85 billion loan to AIG in exchange for a nearly 80 percent stake in the insurer, which lost billions in the risky business of insuring against bond defaults.
Wall Street had feared that AIG, which has its tentacles in various financial services industries around the world, would follow the investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. into bankruptcy
McCain has long been a supporter of reducing corporate regulation, a position Biden latched onto.
"I don't doubt John cares," Biden said. "He just doesn't think we have any responsibility to people who are hurting."
A McCain spokesman dismissed Biden's talk.
"No matter how fiery the sales job, Ohio voters prefer John McCain's maverick record of reforming government and fighting for change," spokesman Ben Porritt said.
In Cleveland, GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said Wednesday she's disappointed that the federal government needed to bailed out another financial institution.
"Certainly AIG though with the construction bonds that they're holding and with the insurance that they are holding very, very impactful for Americans, so you know the shot that has been called by the Feds — it's understandable but very, very disappointing that taxpayers are called upon for another one," Palin said during a visit to a downtown deli, where she shook hands with police officers and business people.
She and her husband Todd sat down for a cup of coffee and chatted briefly with Dawn Bartos, 38, a former police officer who left the force to be home with her three children.
"Good for you," Palin said.
Bartos, a big John McCain supporter, said she found Palin to be warm and personable and said she's great for the Republican ticket.
Biden's bus tour will take him through areas of the swing state devastated by job losses in manufacturing and the auto industry. The economy remains a top concern for voters here, where polls show a close race.
"I can walk from here to Cleveland and couldn't find one person who thinks we've made progress in the last eight years," Biden said.
He left suburban Toledo and stopped for pie at a diner in downtown Findlay, where he chatted with customers.
Biden told supporters in Maumee that McCain would only continue what has happened under the Bush administration. He cautioned that McCain was using the same language Bush used eight years ago as a candidate, employing labels like reform.
"We have seen this movie before," Biden said. "What we know is the sequel is always worse."
Associated Press writers Philip Elliot in Columbus and Joe Milicia in Cleveland contributed to this report.
Check out our special online section, Decision '08, for additional local and national election coverage.