(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Obama on Thursday spoke on a conference call with his grassroots supporters, telling them he needs their help to pass health care reform legislation this year -- otherwise, he said, it will not get done.
"If we don't get it done this year, we're not going to get it done," the president said, calling in from Air Force One. "We're going to need to mobilize all of you."
As both conservative and liberal groups push their messages either for or against health care reforms, Mr. Obama's own group called Organizing for America is preparing to kick off a national campaign to win nationwide support for his health care agenda.
Oraganizing for America, a part of the Democratic National Committee, is organizing neighborhood meetings to take place on June 6 in homes across the country to discuss health care.
"This is our big chance to prove that the big movement that started during the cmapaign isn't over, it's just getting started," Mr. Obama told supporters, brought onto the call by Organizing for America. "We've gotten a lot of things done, but health care -- that's a big push."
He called supporters' grassroots efforst "invaluable," pointing out that hundreds of thousands of letters in support of his budget were sent to Congress.
"I promise you, politicians take notice," he said.
Organizing For America is collecting pledges from citizens to support the three principles Mr. Obama says are essential pieces of health care reform: reducing costs associated with health care for families and businesses, allowing patients to choose their own plans and doctors, and providing quality, affordable care to all Americans. So far, more than half a million people have signed up online.
The group has also provided supporters with an array of online tools at BarackObama.com to allow them to sign up to host a health care discussion on June 6, invite people to the meetings via e-mail or Facebook, download lists of people to call to attend the meetings or to urge them to support the president's agenda.
Volunteers are also being encouraged to organize health care "service days" on June 27, such as healthy food drives or walk-a-thons.
"We know what's at stake," the president said. Health care costs, he said, represents the biggest threat to the nation's long term fiscal health. More importantly, he said, "businesses and families are just getting hammered every day."