Obama Going Prime Time To Help Ailing Health Initiative

In hot pursuit of the health care plan he wants, President Obama will use a prime time news conference Wednesday to make his case, part of a media blitz that has seen him deliver nine speeches and statements in as many days.

"I want to keep the pressure on because we're making steady progress," Mr. Obama said Tuesday in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric. (Watch full interview below.)


There has been some legislative progress, but support for Mr. Obama and his health care plan is slipping as reflected by recent polls and Congressional head counts.

The president spent an hour yesterday with so-called Blue Dogs, conservative Democrats concerned about the cost of the health care plan, the tax hikes needed to pay for it and projections it will send annual deficits and the national debt soaring.

"There's a number of potential cost-cutting measures, which I think the American people expect before we consider any kind of new revenue," said Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., one of the Blue Dogs to meet with Mr. Obama. Ross said taxpayers "want us to squeeze every ounce of savings that we can out of the current system."

A Washington Post/ABC News poll Monday, showed support for President Obama's handing of the health care issue at 49 percent, down from 57 percent in April.

So a prime time news conference gives him the largest forum he can get to challenge the criticism of his approach to universal health care.

"These opponents of reform would rather score political points than offer relief to Americans who've seen premiums double and costs grow three times faster than wages," he said Tuesday in a statement in the Rose Garden.

He remains adamant that overhauling the health care system in America is the only way to contain costs.

"It will not add to the deficit," he told Couric. "I will not sign a bill that adds to the deficit. Period."

Wednesday's Q-and-A session will be President Obama's 5th formal White House news conference in the six months since taking office. It's his 4th in prime time.

Originally, the White House scheduled the appearance for 9:00 p.m. but encountered objections from the TV networks. NBC plans to air "America's Got Talent" at that hour, including an appearance by Susan Boyle, the surprise star of the British version of the show. So the White House moved its event up to 8:00 p.m..

"We found that rescheduling for one hour earlier would help us to arrange for as many Americans as possible to hear directly from the President at the press conference," said White House Deputy Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
An official said the earlier time period "worked better for all the networks." Initially, said the official, none of them had committed to broadcast the presidential news session.

  • Mark Knoller On Twitter»

    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.

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