McCain hits administration policy, but doesn't name Bush

JACKSONVILLE — In the shadow of another financial scare with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, Republican John McCain on Monday lashed out at the current administration's regulation of Wall Street as ''out-dated'' and ''tax burden-built'' and vowed to "end the old boys network" that he says is crippling America's financial markets.

"People are frightened by these events,'' he told a friendly crowd of 3,000 supporters on the opening day of a two-day Florida tour. "The fundamentals of our economy are still strong but these are very, very difficult times. I promise you we will never put America in this position again.''

Flanked by Florida's three recent Republican governors, McCain spoke at Jacksonville's Veteran's Arena, promising to reform the financial regulatory system to ''protect the deposits of hard-working Americans.'' He said he will oppose any attempt to rely on taxpayers to bail out the troubled system.

The criticism was apparently aimed at the administration of President Bush but McCain never mentioned the president by name except to say that has has ''been a good president'' and has made America safer.

Sitting behind McCain was former Gov. Jeb Bush, who was hired a year ago by Lehman Brothers as a financial consultant. As governor, Bush served on the three-member State Board of Administration that agreed to let the state's retirement fund buy a series of questionable mortgage-backed bonds from Lehman Brothers. The subsequent steep drop in value prompted a $9 billion run on the fund last December by local governments who had invested their money in the SBA managed fund.

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