White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs insisted once more that President Obama did everything he could to get a public option through the Senate, even if the administration never talked to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) about his opposition to the provision.
On Tuesday, Gibbs reiterated that President Obama "absolutely" did everything he could to ensure that a government-run insurance option was part of the final legislative product. Pressed by the Huffington Post as to why no one from the administration ever reached out to Lieberman to alleviate his concerns about the proposal, the press secretary said he didn't want to "rehash" the past.
"I think the president has been clear on what he supported," Gibbs said. "I think members of the Senate have been clear on what they didn't support. The president believes... health care reform that will pass the senate contains about 95 percent of what he wanted out of health care reform. And the president is quite pleased with the product and looks forward to signing comprehensive health care reform."
The remarks were part of a broader effort by the White House to sweep Democratic dissension with the Senate's health care bill under the rug. Gibbs noted that on Saturday White House health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle spent 45 minutes talking to Gov. Howard Dean -- perhaps the most high-profile progressive critic of the bill -- about his concerns. After their conversation, claimed Gibbs, Dean acknowledged more positives with the final bill than he initially let on.
"I think all of them are certainly entitled to their opinions," Gibbs said of progressive critics. "Again, we would not be at this point in health care reform were it not for the president's leadership. We would not be at a point where we were a couple of votes away, not in people but in sequencing, to getting health care reform through the Senate."
"The president and his team will continue to play the role they have throughout the process and that is working with leaders in the House and the Senate, discussing with them the options," Gibbs said earlier. "I think the role that he and his team have played up to this point has gotten us to the point where health care reform is not a matter of if, health care reform now is a matter of when."
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