Axelrod: Obama Firm on Public Option

White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod on "Face the Nation," Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009.
Senior White House adviser David Axelrod said President Obama is "not willing to accept" that a so-called public option "is not going to be in the final package" of health-care legislation on "Face the Nation" Sunday.

"He continues to believe it's a good idea," Axelrod told CBS News Chief Washington correspondent and "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schieffer about a government-funded alternative to private health insurance. "He continues to advocate it, and I'm not willing to accept that it's not going to be in the final package."

Axelrod said the president "believes that it will add an element of competition where there is none in some places in this country where there's a monopolistic situation with insurance companies."

He also argued that the entire health-care debate should not be centered on this one element as it has increasingly become.

Axelrod was rigid that any plan the president signs will not add to the national deficit.

"He is absolutely committed that he will, he will not sign a bill unless he can say to the American people honestly that this bill will not add to our deficit," Axelrod said.

In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" Co-Editor Steve Kroft scheduled to be broadcast Sunday night, Mr. Obama said the anger erupting this summer about health care represents "a coarsening of our political dialogue."

"One of the things that I'm trying to figure out is, you know, how can we make sure that civility is interesting," the president told Kroft.

Obama on Health Care Bill: "I Own It"

On "Face the Nation" Axelrod said, "I don't think we ought to be distracted by" mass demonstrations such as the one Saturday in Washington.

"My message to [the protestors] is, 'They're wrong,'" Axelrod said. "The president made it very, very clear that he wants to build on the system that we have."

He said that the CBS News poll taken after the president's speech last week "suggests that they don't represent a mainstream view of this health care plan."

Schieffer asked whether Axelrod thought Mr. Obama and his administration had bitten off more than they could chew in the president's first year in office.

"No, I don't believe that," Axelrod said.
By Michelle Levi