McCain Calls for Bailout of Troubled US Homeowners

Republican presidential candidate John McCain told CNBC that the government's top priority in the financial crisis should be on buying bad mortgages to keep Americans in their homes.

"The administration is not doing what I think they should do, and that's go in and buy out these bad mortgages, give people mortgages they can afford, stabilize home values and start them back up again," McCain said in a rare interview with his vice presidential running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

"I'm disappointed that (Treasury Secretary Henry) Paulson has not put first emphasis on buying these home mortgages and keeping people in their homes," McCain added.

McCain said that if he is elected next Tuesday he would want a Treasury secretary that would give the mortgage-buyback proposal a high priority. McCain noted that Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Chairman Sheila Bair agrees with his position.

Watch the full interview at left.

The Treasury Department has used the first portion of the $700 billion financial rescue package recently enacted to inject capital into banks in exchange for shares of preferred stock.

McCain also said national security and restoring confidence will top the agenda if he his elected president.

McCain and Palin also agreed that government spending must be reduced and convicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens should drop his re-election bid in the wake of his Monday conviction. They also said reports of disagreements between them are exaggerated, and continued their criticism of Democrat Barack Obama's economic plan.

"You don't take money from one group and give it to another," McCain said. "You let people have the ability to accumulate wealth, create jobs, create opportunities."

"We can be compassionate and we can be generous with others without government mandating where those dollars should go to," Palin added.

McCain said he opposes an increase in the minimum wage. "Small businesses right now, I see them every day, they say, 'You increase the minimum wage, I lay off workers,'" he explained. "Is that what we want to do right now? Of course not."

The Arizona senator played down suggestions of dissension between himself and his running mate.

"Here's two mavericks," he said. "Did anybody expect us to agree on every issue? We're not going to agree on every issue, but that's the fun of our relationship."

Asked about the conviction of Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens on seven felony counts, Palin said Stevens "needs to step aside."

"He should, yes, right away," McCain agreed.

Stevens, who had been charged with lying about home renovations and other gifts from a wealthy oil contractor, is running for re-election.