RUSSELLVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said Saturday that the $700 billion federal rescue of the financial industry was never promoted as a quick fix, but insisted it offers a "beginning of the way back" for the faltering economy.
McConnell, who helped push the rescue plan through the Senate, told reporters that the plunging stock market would be in worse shape without congressional intervention.
The four-term senator, locked in his toughest re-election fight, defended the rescue plan as the best way to try to free up credit markets so that Americans could obtain financing for cars and other needs.
"I think the rescue package was the beginning of the way back," he said during a campaign stop in this southern Kentucky community. "Nobody said it was going to fix things instantly, and it's not going to fix things instantly."
McConnell said support for the plan did not put him on the defensive against Democrat Bruce Lunsford, who has said he would have been "hard-pressed" to vote for the bailout plan.
"It is not a liability vote when you have an overwhelming bipartisan majority for it," McConnell said.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)