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Presidential Powwow Under Way

Presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) arrived at the White House this afternoon to meet with President Bush and Congressional leaders for a discussion of a bailout package for the financial markets.

Bush led off the meeting with a brief public statement, saying he was hopeful an agreement will be reached shortly on the legislation. “This meeting is an attempt to move the process forward,” Bush said.

In the Cabinet Room, McCain and Obama were seated about as far away from each other as possible — on the same side of the conference table but at opposite ends — making it difficult for them to talk to or even look at each other.

Also in on the meeting were Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and ranking member Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.). In addition to Bush, administration officials on hand were Vice President Cheney, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten.

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