Republican presidential nominee John McCain said Wednesday he is suspending his campaign and wants to delay Friday’s debate with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama so that he can help resolve the nation’s financial crisis.

McCain made his announcement after he and Obama held private talks about joining forces to address the Wall Street meltdown, The Associated Press and CNN reported.

The Obama campaign said the Democrat initiated the talks, but that McCain beat Obama to the punch with a statement to the media that the two sides should rise above partisan politics because of the crisis.

The Obama campaign said Obama called McCain at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to ask if the Republican nominee would join him in the joint statement, according to CNN. The Obama campaign also said McCain called back at 2:30 p.m., shortly before his New York announcement, to agree, and  that “The two campaigns are currently working together on the details,’’ according to CNN.

McCain said he has spoken to Obama about his plans and asked the Democratic presidential nominee to join him.

CNN reported that the Obama campaign is ready to move forward with the joint statement, but will not suspend its campaign or agree to cancel Friday’s debate.

President Bush is scheduled to go on the air tonight to try to sell the public on his plan for a $700 billion government bailout of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

McCain said the Bush administration’s plan seemed headed for defeat and a bipartisan solution was urgently needed. He said he would put politics aside and return to Washington Thursday to focus on the nation’s financial problems.

The bailout plan drafted by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has met with a cool reception in two days of hearings on Capitol Hill, with both Democrats and Republicans expressing skepticism.

Pictured above is Sen. John McCain.