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Dog Days of Debt Meetings Continue

Contentious Wednesday White House Meeting Preludes Yet Another

"Enough is enough. ... I'll see you all tomorrow."

-- President Obama ending Wednesday’s debt and deficit meeting with congressional leaders at the White House

Under the weight of tedious negotiations and a clock that’s ticking more loudly towards the Treasury Department’s August 2 debt ceiling deadline, the exchanges between the president and congressional Republicans reportedly kicked up a notch Wednesday.

Both sides dispute who was the aggressor in a frank discussion between President Obama and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., but regardless of how productive the meeting may have been up to that point, it’s the ending exchange that created the penumbra under which that productivity has been hidden.

"He (the president) became very agitated," Cantor told Fox News after the meeting. 'Said 'Ronald Reagan wouldn't sit here. You either have to compromise on the dollar figure or the grand bargain'....He said 'don't call my bluff. I'm going to the American people on this.'"

Some inside the meeting contend that bluff was a veto threat from the president if Congress passes a short-term debt ceiling increase without presenting a greater, long-term plan. A presidential veto of such a proposal would essentially run the federal government straight into the debt ceiling and potentially into default.

Democratic sources close to the meeting maintain the president was simply continuing his commitment to a long-term deal and that he, with great conviction, shut down what had become an unproductive conversation at the end of the one hour, fifty minute meeting.

But much like a hot summer afternoon thunderstorm, the negative rhetoric came pouring out within minutes of the president leaving the room. And that’s the narrative that emerged from the fourth meeting of the week.

Taken in tandem with the news that earlier in the afternoon, Moody’s Investors Service placed the U.S. AAA bond rating under review if a move to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the federal deficit isn’t made, the contentious nature of Wednesday’s meeting is amplified. And that likely sets a tense undertone for Thursday’s fifth-straight meeting in the White House Cabinet Room.

Taxes have been the central issue for Republicans who have stood steadfast against increases while Democrats insist that a “shared sacrifice” from upper-income earners is key to a deal. To that end, Senate Dems Thursday plan to introduce a bill to express the sense of the Senate on shared sacrifice in resolving the budget deficit. It’s just another in a list of moves that show the sides are still far apart on a key issue in the talks.

Fox News has learned it’s likely the administration will summon the group to Camp David for more talks throughout the weekend. Perhaps known best for its history of Middle East peace summits, a proposed weekend move to the wilderness would be an indication the administration doesn’t expect to make peace with congressional Republicans and get a plan worked out in the next couple of days.

Obama tossed the idea of weekend talks out at his Monday White House press conference.

“[M]y hope is, is that as a consequence of negotiations that take place today, tomorrow, the next day and through next weekend, if necessary, that we're going to come up with a plan that solves our short-term debt and deficit problems, avoids default, stabilizes the economy, and proves to the American people that we can actually get things done in this country and in this town,” he said.

But if an agreement isn’t reached soon, they may leave this town and head to rural Maryland to try to hammer out a deal over the weekend.


Jobless Numbers Remain Stagnant

“405,000”

-- The number of weekly unemployment claims released by the Labor Department.

The number of Americans seeking federal unemployment benefits dropped only slightly from last week’s 422,000, continuing a stubborn trend of slow job growth.

The moderate flow of job growth seen earlier in the year has dropped dramatically in April and has only returned to a trickle in recent months, threatening what had appeared to be a slow but steady economic recovery.

With many in the business world saying indecision on a plan to raise the debt ceiling and cut the deficit is one of the biggest hindrances to their willingness to expand, the pressure on the president and congressional leaders to resolve the issue becomes even weightier.


Rudy Takes Another Trip To New Hampshire

"My basic question is who can beat Barack Obama? If I think I have the best chance of beating Barack Obama, I’ll become a candidate. If I think that somebody else has a better chance and I’m just going to hurt that chance, then I’ll support that person. We have to beat him."

-- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to Fox News during a previous trip to New Hampshire.

Former New York City Mayor and 2008 presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani heads to New Hampshire Thursday as speculation about his decision on a 2012 GOP bid grows.

On the two-day trip, Giuliani will traverse the Granite State, visiting privately with doctors and nurses to discuss healthcare, speaking at a Manchester Harley-Davidson event that’s billed as a presentation to defend the rights of the NRA, and meeting with civic leaders and law enforcement.

Earlier this month, Mr. Giuliani told an audience at the Asia Pacific Cities Summit in Australia that he will probably make up his mind on a presidential run at the end of the summer.

Top aide Jake Menges tells Fox News that Thursday’s trip is similar to every other trip Giuliani has taken to the state in the past several months and that the end of summer timeline for a decision remains in place.

Giuliani focused his campaign on Florida in 2008, glossing over the first in the nation caucus state of Iowa and the first primary in New Hampshire where he finished in fourth place with just over 8 percent of the vote.

Despite being a well-known '08 contender, Giuliani hasn’t spent a great deal of time on the ground in New Hampshire. This series of visits seem to be an effort to rectify that, positioning him to change strategies if he runs in 2012.


And Now, A Word From Charles

“In a reelection campaign, the money has one use. It has no effect on getting Obama out of the box on explaining high unemployment, et cetera, the failure of the economy. It will be used on negative advertising. It will be the dirtiest campaign you've ever seen. It will be almost $1 billion of sheer attacks because it's essentially a referendum on Obama.”

-- Charles Krauthammer on Special Report w/Bret Baier talking about President Obama’s $86 million second quarter campaign fundraising haul.


Chris Stirewalt is taking some time away from Power Play this week but will return on Monday, July 18.

Power Play, the Web show, is being helmed by a rotation of generous Fox News colleagues including Mike Emanuel and James Rosen.

***Today on “Power Play w/ Chris Stirewalt”: James Rosen talks debt and deficit with Vermont Democratic Rep. Peter Welch and Time Magazine’s Jay Newton-Small. Tune in at 11:30 am Eastern at http://live.foxnews.com/ ***

Fox News producer Meredith Orban contributed to today’s Power Play