From NBC's Carrie Dann
In an interview with NBC's Kelly O'Donnell today, McCain took a step back from blaming Obama for infusing politics into the bailout negotiations, and he previewed fellow "underdog" Palin's debate appearance later this week.
Asked if he still believes that Obama and his Democratic colleagues fueled a partisan atmosphere on the Hill as lawmakers struggled over the economic recovery bill, McCain responded that he wants to "put that aside now."
"I believe that politics has played too great a role in this. I think that Speaker Pelosi's speech was very unnecessary and inflammatory," he said, "But that's not a reason for us not to work together and come up with a solution. I think it's time now not to fix the blame but to fix the problem."
In light of much national anticipation of Thursday's vice presidential debate, as well as the recent rash of bad reviews for Palin's performance in media interviews, McCain defended his running mate's governing style and "tradition."
"The American people have taken to her in a way that I have never seen before," he said. "Their appreciation for her is not because she has got a Ph.D. from Harvard. She doesn't. Their appreciation for her is her world view, her tradition, her adherence to good government."
McCain described Palin's handicap in her upcoming debate against Senate colleague Biden as comparable to his own challenges in facing Obama.
"I think she'll be fine," she said. "I also think that she's just like me in my debates. Got my work cut out for me. I am debating one of the most articulate people ever to come on the American scene."