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« On Stimulus, Republican Governors Walk Fine Line | Blog Home Page | Durbin: Democrats Will "Press Forward" On Health Care »

Recalling Obama's Health Care Messaging

Republicans have been critical of today's health care summit as little more than a photo op. Well, it's just the latest in a long series of public events in which President Obama has tried to sell health reform to a skeptical nation and Congress. After the jump, take a walk down memory lane.

March 2: Obama announces Kathleen Sebelius as his nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services. This after his first choice, Tom Daschle, was forced to withdraw his nomination.

"Health care reform that reduces costs while expanding coverage is no longer just a dream we hope to achieve, it's a necessity we have to achieve."

March 5: Obama holds a health care summit in the East Room, featuring Sen. Ted Kennedy as something of a surprise guest.

"I think most of us who have been in this room before have seen other times when the House and the Senate have made efforts, but they haven't been the kind of serious effort that I think that we're seeing right now. ... This time we will not fail."

May 11: Obama holds an event with health care stakeholders, saying they've agreed to bring down costs by $2 billion over 10 years. He calls it a "watershed event in the long and elusive quest" for health reform.

"What they're doing is complementary to and is going to be completely compatible with a strong, aggressive effort to move health care reform through here in Washington with an ultimate result of saving health care costs for families, businesses and the government," Obama said.

May 13: Speaking with Democratic leaders after a White House meeting, Obama sounds bullish about the prospects for reform passing by fall 2009.

"We've got to get it done this year, both in the House and in the Senate. And we don't have any excuses. The stars are aligned."

May 28: Obama tries rallying his campaign organization, Organizing For America, in a telephone conference call. He makes a dire warning about passing reform in 2009.

"I think the status quo is unacceptable and that we've got to get it done this year. If we don't get it done this year we're not going to get it done."

June 15: Obama speaks in Chicago to the American Medical Association, a group believed to be skeptical of reform, and continues to ratchet up the stakes.

"The cost of our health care is a threat to our economy," he said. "It's an escalating burden on our families and businesses. It's a ticking time bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America."

June 22: With lawmakers increasingly skeptical of the progress of legislation, Obama returns to a campaign staple during a Rose Garden address.

"To those in Washington who have grown accustomed to sky is falling prognoses and the certainties that we cannot get this done, I have to revive an old saying we had from the campaign: Yes we can. We are going to get this done."

June 24: Obama takes to the primetime airwaves in an ABC special program, "Primetime: Questions for the President: Prescription for America." He takes pre-selected questions from an East Room audience. The special drew lackluster ratings.

What's lacking is political will, and that's what I'm hoping the American people provide, because genuine change generally does not come from Washington. Whether we like it or not, it comes from the American people saying, "It's time for us to move forward." And I think this is that moment.

July 13: Announcing his choice for surgeon general, Obama urges Congress to break the logjam and says, "Don't bet against us."

"I understand that people are a little nervous and a little scared about making change. The muscles in this town to bring about big changes are a little atrophied. But we're whipping folks back into shape. We are going to get this done."

July 15: Obama is joined in the Rose Garden by a group of nurses, and keeps the pressure on lawmakers to meet a summer deadline.

"It's time to buck up Congress, this administration, the entire federal government" to pass health care now, he said.

July 20: At a DC children's hospital, Obama accuses his rivals of playing politics in response to Sen. Jim DeMint's infamous "Waterloo" quote. But for the first time, he seems to acknowledge health care legislation won't be passed before the summer recess.

"This isn't about me. This isn't about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses, and breaking America's economy. And we can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. Not this time. Not now."

July 29: Obama holds a town hall meeting in North Carolina to sell health care. But he ultimately spent more time defending his stimulus bill.

"The reforms we seek will bring stability and security that you don't have today - reforms that become more urgent and more urgent with each passing year."

August 11: After town hall meetings across the country feature heated debates over health care legislation, Obama travels to New Hampshire and calls for a more civil discussion.

"One of the objectives of democracy and debate is that we start refining our own views because maybe other people have different perspectives, things we didn't think of. Where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real -- not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed."

August 14: Obama again hits the road, this time in Montana for a health care town hall. He's asked about whether he'll raise taxes to pay for the plan.

"When I was campaigning, I made a promise that I would not raise your taxes if you made $250,000 a year or less. That's what I said."

August 19: Obama participates in a teleconference with faith-based groups and makes a religious appeal for reform.

"These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation, and that is that we look out for one another. That I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. And in the wealthiest nation on earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call."

August 20: Obama's PR blitz continues with an appearance on a conservative radio talk show and later with a gathering at DNC headquarters. On the radio show, he talks about his hope that a bipartisan group can come to an agreement.

"We're happy to make sensible compromises. What we're not willing to do is give up on the core principle that Americans who don't have health insurance should get it."

August 26: Sen. Ted Kennedy dies. Obama does not mention health care in a public statement.

September 7: At an AFL-CIO picnic in Cincinnati, Obama tries to rally his base for a new health care push.

"It's time to do what's right for America's working families, and put aside the partisanship. Stop saying things that aren't true. Come together as a nation to pass health insurance reform now-this year."

September 9: Obama delivers an address to a joint session of Congress.

"The time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care."

September 20: Obama appears on most of the major Sunday talk shows to talk about health care, a modified "Full Ginsburg." He defended his role in the effort on "Meet The Press":

"We wouldn't have gotten this far if, you know, we hadn't been pretty insistent, including to folks in my own party, that we've got to get past some of these ideological arguments to actually make something happen."

September 21: President Obama appears on the "Late Show" with David Letterman.

October 5: Obama is joined by lab coat-clad doctors in the Rose Garden.

"These men and women here would not be supporting health insurance reform if they really believed that it would lead to government bureaucrats making decisions that are best left to doctors. They wouldn't be here today if they believed that reform in any way would damage the very critical and sacred doctor-patient relationship."

December 24: Before leaving for the holidays in Hawaii, Obama praises the Senate for passing its version of health care legislation.

"With today's vote, we are now incredibly close to making health insurance reform a reality in this country. Our challenge, then, is to finish the job."

January 22: In an Ohio town hall meeting after the Massachusetts Senate special election, Obama concedes a setback.

"I have to admit, we've run into a bit of a buzz saw along the way. The longer it's taken, the uglier the process has looked."

January 27: In his State of the Union address, Obama vows to press on with health care reform.

"By the time I'm finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Co-pays will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans. And neither should the people in this chamber."

February 9: After announcing his health care summit during a Super Bowl interview, Obama comes to the press briefing room and talks about his vision for the event.

"Bipartisanship can't be that I agree to all of the things that they believe in or want, and they agree to none of the things that I believe in or want."