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Reid, Cantor Trade Jabs Over Debt

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call

"At an early meeting, Sen. Reid politely thanked Eric Cantor for being frank by way of advising him that in his experience, great agreements are only achieved through open, frank exchanges, and a willingness to put ideology aside and reach a reasonable compromise," Jentleson said.

"Sen. Reid had high hopes that Eric Cantor would rise to the occasion and demonstrate the courage and the ability to forge a bipartisan deal that will cut our nation's deficit and put us on a path to fiscal sanity," he said. "But after seeing Eric Cantor's performance over the last few days, Sen. Reid is disappointed to see that Eric Cantor has demonstrated neither that courage nor that ability, and has instead been nothing but a disruptive force over the course of these negotiations."

Dayspring responded to Jentleson, saying, "At least Leader Reid admits that he thanked Eric Cantor for having the courage to do what he himself couldn't be frank and tell the truth."

Jentleson disputed the phrasing from the background aide.

"What Reid actually said was: 'At least you're being honest,'" Jentleson said.

Jentleson also attacked the aide who provided details of the private conversation on the condition of anonymity.

"Senator Reid also hopes that whoever is leaking the details of a private conversation between Senator Reid and Eric Cantor would have the courage to do so on the record, instead of hiding behind blind quotes. Just a few days ago, Eric Cantor himself expressed outrage at the practice of leaking the details of private conversations, so we certainly hope it isn't his office that is circulating this account."

Other Democrats also criticized Cantor.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Cantor of standing in the way of a reasonable deal. "He is basically standing in the way and it's a shame. ... If Eric Cantor decides everything, I fear we'll be in default," Schumer said.

And asked about the mood of the group of Congressional leaders and Cantor's assertion that Obama walked out of Wednesday's meeting, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday it was a nonissue.

"That's how meetings with the president end. You don't leave first, the president leaves first," the California Democrat said at a press conference. "That's appropriate unless somebody in the room thinks that he or she should have had the last word ... but I think that would be a breach of protocol."

Jessica Brady contributed to this report.

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