CNN Says Obama May Be Seeking Backup Plan Even As He Rallies Dems
After a long-anticipated overhaul proposal was unveiled by Sen. Max Baucus Wednesday to a chilly reception, President Obama "quietly" held a meeting with Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Bob Bennett, R-Utah, the cosponsors of an earlier, bipartisan plan, CNN reports. The White House said it was a normal part of the president's ongoing outreach to members of Congress, but Republican officials told CNN that they believed Obama is looking for alternatives that could attract GOP support. Obama met separately with Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., a liberal critic of the current bills (Henry, 9/16).
Bennett said they had a good discussion and that the Obama "was very gracious" when the Republican said he could not support the bills currently being debated, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Bennett has received some flak from Republican challengers in the 2010 election for supporting the bill he and Wyden propose, but has remained "insistent." Wyden and Bennett say their plan will be ready in case Democrats' current proposals crumble (Canham, 9/16).
Wyden and other Democrats have shown skepticism towards Baucus' plan, the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports. Wyden said, "You look at the bill and the text of the legislation legally bars more than 200 million people from having any choice at all, let alone (getting) what members of Congress get" (Daly, 9/16).
Obama has embarked on a campaign of television appearances and speeches around the country in what may be "the most extensive presidential selling job in years," the Baltimore Sun reports. Popular support for an overhaul is one goal, but the president is also hoping to provide cover to congressional Democrats by "stiffening the spines" of undecided members and persuading those who face tough reelections next year to take a risk. The latest installment of the president's PR push comes in a rally Thursday night at College Park, Md. (West, 9/17).