Obama Delays Asia Trip to Press for Health Care Bill

Barack Obama

Acknowledging that the House won't meet his March 18th deadline for passing the Senate version of his health care bill, President Obama is delaying his Asia/Pacific trip until March 21st.

That'll give him more time to pressure reluctant Democrats to cast their votes in support of the embattled legislation.

The change in travel plans was announced Friday morning on Twitter by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. He also announced that neither First Lady Michelle Obama nor daughters Malia and Sasha would accompany the president on the trip as previously scheduled.

It would have given Mr. Obama a chance to show his family where he lived as a boy during four years in Indonesia. His trip also takes him to Australia and the U.S. territory of Guam.

But he concluded he needed to delay his departure if he's to win a House health care vote.

"See, they just think I'm an idiot because I'm doing something that's not immediately popular," Mr. Obama said Wednesday of those opposed to his year-long effort to enact an overhaul of health care coverage in America.

He said he was "tired of talking about it," but it's clear he'll have to do a lot more talking if he's to win passage of the plan in the House. It's also clear to Democratic leaders they still don't have the votes.

And the president has shown himself to be indefatigable when it comes to his health care objectives.

"I don't know about the politics," he said Wednesday in his 52nd health care speech since taking office, "but I know it is the right thing to do, and that's why I'm fighting so hard to get it done."

CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/markknoller.
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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.