* White House officials take to the airwaves with message
* Obama officials reaching out to nervous business leaders
* Aide Jarrett's "phone ringing off the hook"
By Alister Bull
WASHINGTON, July 28 President Barack Obama is
deeply involved in trying to win a debt deal and his White
House was working flat out, aides said, pushing back against
any impression Congress had sidelined the administration.
"He's getting absolutely no sleep. He's working tirelessly,
meeting with his economic team, doing a lot of outreach,
exploring all kinds of possibilities for compromise," top Obama
aide Valerie Jarrett told Reuters Insider.
White House officials have blanketed U.S. cable television
in the last few days to get their message over that Republicans
were harming the U.S. economy by refusing to compromise over
measures to cut the deficit and lift the borrowing ceiling.
Lawmakers must lift the country's $14.3 trillion borrowing
ceiling by an Aug. 2 deadline to act or risk a devastating
default and downgrade of its vital AAA credit rating.
Obama Chief of Staff Bill Daley, key adviser David Plouffe
and Jarrett herself have been almost constantly on air, while
also reaching beyond the Beltway to regional press and radio.
"I don't know how you can get more actively involved,"
Daley told CNN when charged that the White House has been
relegated to the sidelines in the deficit debate by Congress.
"I'm in constant conversations, as are many of our staff, with
people on the Hill," he said.
Vice President Joe Biden, who led bipartisan negotiations
to explore a deal, has been a key conduit to Republican Senate
leader Mitch McConnell, with whom he has a rapport.
White House budget chief Jack Lew and top Obama economic
aide Gene Sperling have also reinforced Obama in reaching out
to Congress. Daley and Jarrett, both with business backgrounds,
have been the president's top emissaries to the business
community, where concerns over the debt ceiling have grown.
"Today they are very nervous. My phone was ringing off the
hook all day long," said Jarrett, who said she cancelled
several meetings just to be able to field incoming calls.
Several press conferences and a prime-time televised
address to the nation by the president from the stately East
Room, plus a background briefing by senior Obama aides that
went late into Friday night, have added to the controlled
frenzy at the White House.
This has translated into even longer days than normal at
the White House, which already begin in the early hours of
every morning as senior staff prepared for their daily 7:30
a.m. meeting in the office of the chief of staff.
(Additional reporting by Caren Bohan; Editing by Eric