- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2008


President Bush on Thursday said that he is confident Congress will pass an economic rescue package “very shortly,” during a meeting with the two presidential candidates and congressional leaders at the White House.

“This meeting is an attempt to move the process forward,” Mr. Bush said, despite an announcement from Democrats earlier in the afternoon that an agreement in principle had been reached.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Democratic candidate Barack Obama sat at opposite ends of a long conference table in the White House Cabinet Room.

Mr. Obama sat to the president’s left, on the other side of the Senate majority and minority leaders, and Mr. McCain sat to the president’s right, with the House leaders from both parties between him and Mr. Bush.

The president said that “all of us around the table take this issue very seriously.”

He said that the country will be in “a serious economic crisis if we don’t pass a piece of legislation.”

The arrival of Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama at the White House sparked a level of media interest not seen here for some time, with seismic political and economic issues converging at once.

Mr. Obama arrived in a motorcade of black SUVs around 3:40, emerging into a light rain with a phone to his ear after sitting in the vehicle for three or four minutes.

Mr. McCain arrived moments later in a similar motorcade. Both men were driven up to a side entrance to the West Wing used to evade reporters, though they were visible from a distance.

Inside the White House briefing room, as the meeting began, McCain and Obama staff commingled in a scene that reporters covering the campaign said was unprecedented.

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