Lawmakers Detail Obama’s PitchBy JACKIE CALMES
In an odd coincidence, the House debate on Saturday to overhaul health care took place on the third anniversary of the 2006 election that gave Democrats majority control after 12 years of Republican dominance. It fell to President Obama and to Congressional leaders to persuade those Democrats still sweating the final vote that it would not prove the party’s undoing in next November’s midterm elections.
Both Mr. Obama and the House leaders showcased Democrats’ newest colleague, Representative Bill Owens, who last Tuesday won a special election in an upstate New York district that Republicans had held since 1872. In the campaign, Mr. Owens gave unabashed support to the pending House health care bill, despite the opposition of national conservative groups, including the new Tea Party Patriots, who backed Mr. Owens’s conservative rival.
Mr. Obama, during his private pep talk to Democrats, recognized Mr. Owens’s election and then posed a question to the other lawmakers. According to Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who supports the health care bill, the president asked, “Does anybody think that the teabag, anti-government people are going to support them if they bring down health care? All it will do is confuse and dispirit” Democratic voters “and it will encourage the extremists.” More>>