There's been a bit of intrigue over the last 24 hours surrounding Sen. Mark Udall's (D-CO) position on the public option. There were reports from DailyKos, the American Prospect, the Rachel Maddow Show and ColoradoPols saying that he had, in fact, signed the letter authored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) that endorses the use of majority rules (ie. "reconciliation") to pass a strong public option. However, Udall did not actually physically sign the letter - he instead issued a separate statement that seems to support using reconciliation to pass a public option.
Seems like one and the same, right? Yeah, it does seem that way. Except, then why didn't Udall just sign the letter like so many other Democratic senators? Why is he now explicitly telling the Denver Post he made a deliberate decision to not sign the letter? It could have to do with the fact that he may not actually support as strong a public option that many Democrats have been pushing. I say that because of this recent but little-noticed story in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on February 17th - a story that we discussed on the AM760 morning show at the time:
Udall will push for public option, but at local level, not national
By Gary Harmon
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said he is open to advancing a measure that would establish public-option, health-insurance providers in high-cost areas or regions deemed lacking in competition.
The public option he envisions wouldn't be a nationwide provider, but would be established to provide local competition, Udall said in a visit Wednesday to Grand Junction.
Udall is not quite as far along as his colleague, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who earlier this week asked that the Senate move forward on a public option, he said. Bennet's letter was signed by nine other senators, all Democrats, but not by Udall. (emphasis added)
Is Udall's refusal to sign onto the Bennet letter a deliberate reflection of his statements in Grand Junction implying a potential substantive opposition to a stronger version of the public option than he is willing to support? I honestly don't know - it's hard to tell, but it sure seems that way between the recent Senintel story and his staff's statements today to the Denver Post. And it most definitely means the questions are clearly worth asking as the final battle over key health care reform details takes shape.
We'll be updating this story and examining what's going on here on AM760 tomorrow morning from 7am to 10am. Tune in.