Obama Makes Backstage Push for Public Option

Despite public retreat, president plying Senate moderates
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2009 11:03 AM CDT
In this March 5, 2009 file photo, Max Baucus asks President Barack Obama a question at the White House Forum on Health Reform.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, FILE)
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(Newser) – Though Barack Obama has publicly backed off in his support for the public option, behind the scenes he’s campaigning hard to make it happen. He’s spent a lot of time in recent weeks calling moderate senators like Olympia Snowe, Ben Nelson, and Maria Cantwell, armed with polls showing how popular the public plan is, the Washington Post reports.

Congressional leaders have been active as well. “I have talked to every one of our conservative members,” Chuck Schumer said last week, “and they are open to some kind of public option.” Dick Durbin, meanwhile, held a closed-door meeting Tuesday in which he showed conservative Democrats poll data indicating that their states supported the plan. “To argue that this is some fringe position is to ignore the obvious,” he said.