*Days away from a make-or-break vote on his health care overhaul, President Barack Obama is turning up the pressure as only presidents can, as Democratic leaders make a desperate scramble for votes.
The president is wooing freshman Democrats in the Oval Office, holding at least two one-on-one sessions in the past few days that never appeared on his official schedule, according to aides to two lawmakers invited, Reps. Scott Murphy, D-N.Y., and Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla.
Both voted “no” when the legislation passed the House on the first go-round last year, but now they’re not ruling out siding with the president and Democratic leaders on what’s expected to be a cliffhanger vote in the House later this week.
Another lawmaker who opposed the legislation last year, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, flew with Obama on Air Force One to an Obama appearance in Kucinich’s district Monday. Kucinich, was against the bill because he wants a larger government role in health care, also is not ruling out voting “yes” this time.
With a number of anti-abortion Democrats expected to defect over provisions they contend allow federal funding of abortion, every vote will count for Democratic leaders, who need to win over lawmakers who opposed the legislation the first time – and keep reluctant supporters on board in the face of escalating attacks. Sweetening the pot, those who vote with the president may get more help from him in the future: Party officials said that in determining how to allocate Obama’s time for campaign stops or other events, a vote on something like health care would be a consideration.
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