Was it a blow up? Obama, GOP get tense in talks

From left, President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., meet in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 13, 2011, regarding the debt ceiling. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

As negotiations continue over raising the nation's debt ceiling to avoid any potential default on America's fiscal obligations, the daily meetings at the White House on the subject have been getting more tense, people familiar with the negotiations tell CBS News.

Wednesday's meeting was the most tense meeting of the week, a GOP aide told CBS News. In fact, the president ended the meeting by abruptly leaving the room.

A White House official, however, told reporters that President Obama did not actually storm out of the room.

Instead, Obama reportedly gave an impassioned statement to the congressional leaders at the end of the meeting, saying "enough's enough" with respect to delay and refusal to compromise.

The president reportedly told the group, "I've been very patient" and that he wants agreement now. The official said the president ended his statement, stood up and headed back to his office.

Obama, Reid, McConnell
From left, President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., meet in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 13, 2011, regarding the debt ceiling.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Obama's speech was reportedly in response to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's repeated insistence that only a short-term, smaller deal on debt savings was possible. Following the meeting, Cantor told reporters that after the GOP rep.'s third time insisting that his party wouldn't budge, the president reportedly said: "Eric, don't call my bluff. I'm going to the American people with this."

During the meeting, Speaker of the House John Boehner reportedly challenged the President to offer real spending cuts. He said the gimmicks and accounting tricks that Washington has used for decades are not applicable here, according to a GOP aide.

When White House officials allegedly attempted to justify budgetary gimmicks, Boehner said pointedly: "We're not doing that anymore," according to the GOP aide.

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White House and Democratic officials said the Republicans characterizations of Wednesday's meeting were dramatic and overblown. They instead described the meeting in different terms to CBS News, saying the participants - who are party leaders from both the Senate and the House - had a constructive conversation on the numbers, and talked specifics.

Democrats agreed that Cantor reportedly kept pushing for a short-term deal, which President Obama promised to veto if it reached his desk.

Responding to reports that he interrupted the president during the meeting, Cantor told CBS News: "I never interrupted the president, and in fact was deferential, seeking his permission to speak to him, Jack Lew or whomever. I made the point in my opening that they were walking back the spending cut number, that we were nowhere close. At the end, I said because we were nowhere close, I would walk back our position of no short term in order to reach agreement if the President would agree not to veto it."

White House officials say the president is still eager for a large compromise, even though their Republican counterparts insist that is impossible.

Both sides will resume negotiations Thursday afternoon.

  • Joshua Norman

    Joshua Norman is a Senior Editor at CBSNews.com.

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