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N.M. Delegation Reacts to President's Plea for Bailout Plan

By Michael Coleman
Journal Washington Bureau
          WASHINGTON – New Mexico's congressional delegation said President Bush did the right thing by speaking to the nation about America's financial crisis Wednesday night, but some weren't completely sold on his message.
        "I'm glad he's putting together a bipartisan group of individuals, including Senators McCain and Obama, to move forward with a new plan," said Rep. Tom Udall, a Democrat running for the seat of retiring Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M. "But we need more than just principals — we need a real proposal backed by specifics of what will work.
        "And I didn't hear him take responsibility for his administration's failure to oversee Wall Street," Udall told the Journal after the president's speech.
        Rep. Steve Pearce, the Republican candidate for the Domenici seat, said he was "disappointed" in the message Bush conveyed.
        "I'm not hearing him say that anyone is going to be held accountable and that's one of the key elements that people are angry about," Pearce said in an interview. "I haven't heard one person say we're going to stop these investments that are causing the problems.
        "We're going to bail the market out and let it do the same thing tomorrow?" Pearce asked.
        Domenici, a 36-year Senate veteran and former budget committee chairman, said President Bush "did a terrific job of explaining the fundamentals" of the complex crisis to Americans watching at home.
        Domenici also said that, after days of counsel and study, he'll be inclined to vote for a package along the lines of what Bush and his economic advisers are proposing.
        "I have come to the conclusion that we'd better do something very close to what they have recommended or we risk our country," Domenici said in an interview.
        "It is not Wall Street (that's in trouble), it's Central Avenue," he said, referring to Albuquerque's best-known street.
        But Domenici said it's not a decision he will make easily.
        "It's kind of strange that over the last few days of my 36 years, I have before me the hardest decision I will have made in all my years," Domenici said.
        Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, said he appreciated Bush's speech but needs more details before endorsing any plan.
        "It was appropriate for President Bush to speak to the American people to convey the seriousness of the situation we face," Bingaman said in a statement. "Until the plan is complete, however, it's difficult to judge its merits."
        Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., said Bush did a good job explaining the gravity of the problem but the plan still under formulation faces tough sledding in Congress.
        "There is a lot of concern on Capitol Hill, particularly in the House, about some elements of the proposal," Wilson said. "There is not yet a consensus on what the details should be, and how to protect the taxpayer to the maximum extent possible. There is still a lot of work to be done."