WASHINGTON — Warning that the U.S. is "in the midst of a serious financial crisis," President George W. Bush painted a dire portrait of an economy at risk of a "long and painful recession" to convince a skeptical public that his $700 billion rescue plan is essential.

"Our entire economy is in danger," Bush said in a prime time address to the nation Wednesday night, his most stark comments to date on the meltdown consuming world financial markets.

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