LA CROSSE, WIS. — Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain stayed on the high road Wednesday, eschewing direct attacks on each other and talking up the financial rescue legislation before returning to Washington to cast their votes for the Senate version of the bill.
With several new polls showing Obama building a lead over McCain, the Illinois senator rallied an estimated 15,000 supporters who filled the streets of this town on the Mississippi River.
Obama assured them he was doing whatever he could to help pass the $700-billion bailout "to safeguard the American economy."
"Even with all these taxpayer protections, this plan is not perfect. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have legitimate concerns about it; I know many Americans share those concerns," Obama said. "But it is clear that this is what we must do right now to prevent a crisis from turning into a catastrophe."
Campaigning in Independence, Mo., McCain hailed Democrats and Republicans working together to craft a federal assistance package, and said such bipartisanship should occur more frequently.
"Crises often have a way of revealing our better selves, of showing what we're made of and how much we can achieve when we're put to the test," the Arizona senator said, speaking to about 100 supporters in a cozy wood-paneled auditorium at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. "It should not require extreme emergencies, when the future of our entire economy is on the line, to bring out the best of us. . . . We are supposed to do that even in the calmest of times."
Several new polls showed that Obama had raised his standing after Friday's presidential debate.
According to a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, Obama leads McCain in three key states: Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.
Combined, those states are worth 68 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory on Nov. 4.
Obama's growing popularity was also cited by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Its poll showed that Obama moved to a 49% to 42% advantage among registered voters after the debate.
The race was virtually even in early August and mid-September.
Times staff writer Michael Muskal in Los Angeles contributed to this report.