President Barack Obama has not reached out to Sen. Joseph Lieberman in the week since the Connecticut Independent announced that he would potentially filibuster health care reform.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, in response to a question from the Huffington Post, told reporters on Tuesday that he was aware "of neither meetings nor phone calls" between "the president and Senator Lieberman." Last Tuesday, Lieberman told reporters that he would side with Republicans in sustaining a filibuster of health care legislation if it included a public option for insurance coverage.
The statement instantly made the senator a key player in the legislative process. Democrats in the Senate cannot spare one defection of a caucusing member if they hope to sustain the 60 votes needed to get legislation to an up-or-down vote.
That Obama has not reached out to the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee suggests any number of possibilities. The president, for instance, could be content to leave the wooing of Lieberman to the Democratic leadership in Congress. The White House could also view the senator's opposition as ephemeral and believes it is simply best to marginalize his voice.
By contrast, the president is scheduled to meet on Tuesday with another public option skeptic -- one who has been far less vocal than Lieberman. As Talking Points Memo reported, Obama and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) will have a sit down in the White House around 5:00 p.m. this evening.
"This is the only meeting today," a White House aide told the Huffington Post. "Tomorrow [Obama] is in Wisconsin."