Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, one of the president's closest friends in the Senate, told me the president talked about what a "dramatic step forward" the bill is.
He said the president told him the bill gives people "a fighting chance against the health care companies." Mr. Obama added that "we can't miss this opportunity," according to Durbin.
Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota said the president sought to inspire him with an invocation of the value of service. The president said, according to Conrad, that the bill represented "the reason people have come" to Washington – "to make a difference for the country."
But when the president opened the meeting up for questions and comments, he heard no small amount of grumbling from liberals disconsolate over the apparent demise of the public option, according to one Democratic senator.
At one point, after a frustrated senator decried how little fun it is to push the bill through, the president, smiling broadly as he left the meeting, said this: "That's exactly what you need to do -- have some fun."
He told senators to go home over recess and explain to their constituents all the great things that are in the bill -- and to revel in this historic moment.
"Have some fun," the president repeated.