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« Would Gubernatorial Wins Signal GOP Comeback? | Blog Home Page | Obama Mourns Eunice Shriver »

White House Softens Tone On Health Care Town Halls

President Obama heads tomorrow to a state that values its town hall meetings as much as any -- New Hampshire. And leading up to to the Portsmouth event, the White House seems to be dialing back somewhat its attack on the "manufactured" outrage taking place around the country.

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, filling in for Robert Gibbs on Air Force One today, echoed Obama's own words today in taking a more positive spin on the interest in these forums, in contrast to the new criticism from Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer today.

"I think there's actually a pretty long tradition of people shouting at politicians in America," Gibbs said when asked about their op-ed. "The President thinks that if people want to come and have a spirited debate about health care, a real vigorous conversation about it, that's a part of the American tradition and he encourages that."

He did draw the line at truly disruptive behavior, saying the president "doesn't think that that's productive." As for the motivations of those who come, Burton again stepped back somewhat from comments last week in which Gibbs directly targeted conservative groups who were driving people to events.

"I think less important than the motivations or the organizations or who's putting it together is that there's a lot of energy out there on this issue, on either side," Burton said today. "The President views his role as getting health care reform done for the American people and in order to do that, that means going out there and being prepared to have a robust and vigorous discussion."

For the presidential town hall, 1,800 are expected and tickets were distributed through the offices of the local officials and some outside groups, Burton said. Obama's message will again meld the economy and health care.