*President Barack Obama strongly signaled that Democrats will move forward on a health care overhaul with or without Republicans, preparing his party for a fight whose political outcome will rest with voters in November.
Delivering his closing argument at a 7-1/2-hour televised policy marathon Thursday, Obama told Republicans he welcomes their ideas – even ones Democrats don’t like – but they must fit into his framework for a broad health care remake that would cover tens of millions of uninsured Americans.
That’s the deal.
It’s a gamble for Obama and his party, and it’s far from certain that Democratic congressional leaders can rally their members to muscle a bill through on their own. At stake are Democrats’ political fortunes in the midterm elections and the fate of Obama’s domestic agenda pitted against emboldened Republicans.
“The truth of the matter is that politically speaking, there may not be any reason for Republicans to want to do anything,” Obama said, summing up. “I don’t need a poll to know that most Republican voters are opposed to this bill and might be opposed to the kind of compromise we could craft.
“And if we can’t,” he added, “I think we’ve got to go ahead and some make decisions, and then that’s what elections are for. “
To the nearly 40 lawmakers in the room with him, the message was unmistakable.
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Watch President Obama & republicans spar on the issue: