Washington, Sept.26 : The fate of the Bush administration's 700 billion dollar bailout package is still in suspense, even after the president met presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, and Congressional leaders at the White House on Thursday.
The debate over the proposed bailout of the financial industry continued late into the night, with congressional Democrats saying they're still working toward an agreement and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke due to meet with lawmakers.
The summit at the White House was intended to be a consensus-building exercise, reports Fox News.
But as Obama and McCain left, officials and aides who had attended the meeting said the summit had ended on a very low note.
"This meeting ended bad - real bad," one source told FOX News.
Others described the tone as "angry" and "heated," saying Democrats were upset with House Republicans in particular who would not drop their opposition to the administration's proposal.
"We may have gone backward," another source said.
Some Democratic leaders said as much publicly, laying the blame partly on McCain, whom they accused of destabilizing the talks by calling for the candidates to enter the economic negotiations.
"The next thing we know, he's in a position frankly where he's making it harder to get things done, rather than help us negotiate differences," Representative Barney Frank, Democrat (Massachusetts), said.
Obama said more work needs to be done to resolve differences, but he didn't see a need for the candidates' direct involvement in negotiations.
"Here's my observation and I think this may have been confirmed at the meeting today - when you inject presidential politics into delicate negotiations, sometimes it's not helpful. The cameras change things," Obama told FOX News.
"It's not clear to me that having presidential candidates in a high-profile way in the negotiating process is useful," he added.
Banking Chairman Chris Dodd said, "It was a photo op for John McCain. ... It was a rescue plan for John McCain."
Bush called Thursday's emergency meeting with lawmakers the night before, after Sen. McCain announced he was suspending his campaign activities to deal with the rescue package.
Though McCain and Obama exited without making any comments, Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama emerged from the meeting to declare there was no agreement.
The top two Republican leaders in Congress, House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, issued statements saying there was not yet an agreement.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said after the high-stakes meeting that "there is a clear sense of urgency and agreement on the need to stabilize the financial markets and prevent a massive financial crisis from affecting everybody in America."
But as to the substance of the meeting, she said, "members of the administration and the congressional leaders pledged to continue working together to finalize a bill that will address concerns and solve the problem as soon as possible."