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Chambliss defends vote for bailout
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ATLANTA (AP) _ U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss defended his vote in favor of the $700 billion bailout plan Thursday, saying the much-criticized package was needed to avert a "slide down into a financial depression."

"We've got a crisis in this country and in the financial community," Chambliss told reporters at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. "Taking no action is simply not an option."

The Republican, who faces re-election against Democrat Jim Martin, is in tricky territory as he tries to explain his support for the bailout.

Martin is attacking the vote as a "typical Washington solution" that saddles taxpayers with the debt. Georgia's seven House Republicans all voted against the chamber's version of the plan that was defeated Monday.

There are signs some GOP candidates in Georgia may be using the bailout as campaign fodder. Congressional candidate Rick Goddard has criticized Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall for supporting the package.

Chambliss' campaign has aggressively put him forward to explain his vote on the plan, which the Senate passed by a 75-24 margin Wednesday after adding tax provisions aimed at winning over dissenting House members.

He made his remarks Thursday just minutes after arriving on a plane from Washington, and he planned to spend the next two days traveling to Georgia media markets to answer questions on the bailout.

The senator said he's heard from several major Georgia businesses who worry about meeting payroll amid the financial crunch. He also said he's hearing more support for the bill after the stock market plummeted 777 points the day the House defeated the measure.

"The stock market plunge on Monday was a serious wakeup call," he said.

At first, he said, there were 50 calls against the bailout package for every one call that came in for it. But the tide has swiftly changed, he said. "Now we are getting many more calls from people who say, 'Thank you.'"

Martin, meanwhile, blasted Chambliss for agreeing to a bill in haste that may not solve the nation's financial crisis.

"The only thing worse than having to pay $700 billion today would be having to pay another $700 billion tomorrow because Washington and Saxby Chambliss could not find the courage and common ground to stand up and make a real change in the system," he said.

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