(CNN) - The presidential candidates reacted quickly to news of the growing banking crisis - including the decision of Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers to file for bankruptcy protection - with strikingly different tones, as Barack Obama pointed to Bush administration policies, and John McCain highlighted his campaign theme of reform.
In a statement released by his campaign, Obama said President Bush’s economic approach was partly to blame for the weekend’s developments. “The challenges facing our financial system today are more evidence that too many folks in Washington and on Wall Street weren’t minding the store,” he said. “Eight years of policies that have shredded consumer protections, loosened oversight and regulation, and encouraged outsized bonuses to CEOs while ignoring middle-class Americans have brought us to the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.
"I certainly don’t fault Senator McCain for these problems, but I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to. It’s a philosophy we’ve had for the last eight years – one that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. It’s a philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise, and one that says we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore economic problems until they spiral into crises."
“Well now, instead of prosperity trickling down, the pain has trickled up – from the struggles of hardworking Americans on Main Street to the largest firms of Wall Street This country can’t afford another four years of this failed philosophy. For years, I have consistently called for modernizing the rules of the road to suit a 21st century market – rules that would protect American investors and consumers. And I’ve called for policies that grow our economy and our middle-class together. That is the change I am calling for in this campaign, and that is the change I will bring as president.”
John McCain did not refer to current leadership in his statement on the banking meltdown. "The crisis in our financial markets has taken an enormous toll on our economy and the American people - first the decline of our housing markets followed by the collapse of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and now Lehman Brothers. 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.
“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.
"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. We cannot tolerate a system that handicaps our markets and our banks and places at risk the savings of hard-working Americans and investors. 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."
Both candidates are expected to address the crisis in morning remarks.