(CNN) -- In his first press conference in nearly six weeks, Sen. John McCain urged lawmakers Tuesday to adopt five of his proposed improvements to the government's proposed financial rescue plan.
Sen. Barack Obama says the bailout plan must protect taxpayers.
President Bush has asked Congress to act quickly on the $700 billion bailout he proposed following news of failing financial institutions and frozen credit markets.
McCain, speaking in Freeland, Michigan, said the proposed plan has to allow for greater accountability, including a bipartisan board to "provide oversight to the rescue."
"That oversight is absolutely essential," McCain said, also arguing against the unprecedented power granted to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in managing the plan.
He said the plan must also help taxpayers recover the $700 billion planned for the bailout.
"That money simply can't go into a black hole of bad debt with no means of recovering the funds."
The Arizona senator also called for complete transparency in regard to crafting and implementation of any legislation.
"This can't be cobbled together behind closed doors. The American people have the right to know which businesses will be helped, and what selection will be based on, and how much that help will cost," he said.
McCain also called for a cap on executive pay for companies getting federal help. Senior leaders of any firm bailed out by the federal government "should not be making more than the highest paid government official," he said.
Finally, McCain said it would be "unacceptable" for Congress to add earmarks and so-called pork barrel legislation to this plan.
The press conference came hours after Sen. Barack Obama criticized President Bush for showing "stubborn inflexibility" on the plan.
"This is not the time for 'my-way-or-the-highway' intransigence from anyone involved. It's not the time for fear or panic. It's the time for resolve, responsibility and reasonableness," Obama said at a news conference in Clearwater, Florida.
Obama said it is "wholly unreasonable to expect that American taxpayers would or should hand this administration or any administration a $700 billion blank check with absolutely no oversight or conditions, when a lack of oversight in Washington and on Wall Street is exactly what got us into this mess."
Obama said taxpayers should be treated like investors if they are being asked to underwrite the bailout.
"Now that the American people are being called upon to finance this solution, the American people have the right to certain protections and assurances from Washington," he said.
The Democratic presidential candidate also said he thinks middle class tax cuts are "absolutely necessary" in order to strengthen the economy.
Like McCain, Obama expressed concern that the current proposal puts too much power in the hands of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
Asked if he would vote against a plan that doesn't contain provisions he wants to help people keep their homes, Obama said, "I'm not trying to dictate one particular way, for example, to protect tax payers."
"But I need to be convinced that tax payers are going to get an upside on this thing and can be made whole when the economy recovers," he said.
McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds responded to Obama's speech, saying in a release:
"Whether calling for a bipartisan oversight board or prohibitions on golden parachutes, Barack Obama is simply following in John McCain's footsteps while trying to respond to this financial crisis."
Obama-Biden spokesman Hari Sevugan said in response:
"Contrary to the lies told by the McCain campaign, it was John McCain who followed Sen. Obama's lead in laying out principles that call for strict oversight and accountability, protecting taxpayers and cracking down on CEO pay. We only wish he had adopted those same principles over the last 26 years rather than cheerleading for the deregulation agenda that helped produce today's crisis and repeatedly opposing limitations on the obscene compensation given to failed CEOs."
Earlier Tuesday, McCain charged that Obama had shown a lack of leadership by staying "mum" on the financial crisis -- an accusation the Obama campaign called "laughable."
McCain's campaign released a television ad Tuesday that builds on McCain's argument that Obama is not ready to lead.
"In crisis, experience matters. McCain and his Congressional allies led," an announcer says in the 30-second spot.
"Obama and his liberal allies? Mum on the market crisis," the announcer says.
Words beside a picture of Obama read "no leadership" as the announcer says, "A risk your family can't afford." Watch the ad »
In response to the ad, the Obama campaign charged McCain is the candidate who has not shown leadership.
"This ad is laughable. If you believe John McCain, George Bush and the Republicans in Washington have led on reforming Wall Street and restraining CEO pay, I've got a bridge in Alaska to sell you," said Obama-Biden spokesman Bill Burton. Watch candidate advisers talk about economic plans »
In the past week, Obama has inched up in the national polls. CNN's latest average of national polls shows Obama leading McCain by 3 points.
Earlier this month, McCain passed Obama in the national polls for the first time and held onto his lead for six days.
But as the financial crisis unfolded, Obama again took over the lead.
Polls show more people think Obama would do a better job handling an economic crisis than McCain. Watch how economic woes boost Obama »
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