Bush, Obama aides rebut talk of a free trade deal

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Washington, Nov.12 : White House aides are reportedly fuming over leaked reports that President Bush had offered a political compromise in which he would support a bailout for the auto industry in exchange for Obama's support of a free-trade deal with Colombia.

According to the president-elect's aides, Obama told Bush that he favors appointing a czar to oversee any bailout for the nations' domestic automakers. That appointee would have power to push for reforms in an ailing industry on the brink of bankruptcy.

Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino did not deny the White House was upset about the leaks, but declined to castigate the Obama team herself.

"You're not going to hear that from me," the New York Post quoted her as telling reporters, blaming the entire dust-up on unnamed sources.

Normally, private chats with the president in the Oval Office are presumed to remain private.

But on their return flight to Chicago after Monday's meeting, Obama aides gave reporters a read out from the Bush-Obama meeting, including the topics that were discussed.

Reporters were told that the two men discussed the stimulus package, the travails of the auto industry and housing foreclosures. By mid-afternoon yesterday, both sides were sweeping the matter under the rug.

Both sides were in agreement yesterday that no deal had been hatched between Obama and Bush to support each other's leading agenda items.

ANI

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