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Axelrod Optimistic About Health Care Reform Push

Judy Woodruff speaks with White House senior adviser David Axelrod about what is at stake for President Obama ahead of Wednesday night's speech.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The president said today that he had let this debate get away from him in August, that he left a lot of ambiguity out there, that the opponents filled the airwaves. Is that why this speech was necessary?

  • DAVID AXELROD:

    This speech was always planned. We always planned to — look, we had a strategy, and that strategy was informed by history that said don't bring a ready-made bill at the front end and try and foreclose debate.

    We laid out some broad principles and challenged the Congress to meet them. Four of the five committees finished work before August. The fifth committee of jurisdiction, the Senate Finance Committee, is going to get it done next week, they announced today.

    We're farther along and in a better position to get this done than at any time in history, and we've been at this discussion for 100 years. So, you know, I think it's working as we expected. We always knew that at some point the president was going to have to bring the strands of this together and bring clarity to it and some direction to it, and now's the time.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So is this more of an explanatory speech, given the myths the president says are out there, or more of a persuasive speech?

  • DAVID AXELROD:

    Well, I think that there's persuasion in explanation here. The president is going to talk about the problem. He's going to talk about his plan to deal with the problem. And he's going to talk about the myths associated with it that he will debunk, and he's going to talk about the cost of inaction, which would be severe for the country and for businesses and families everywhere. So he's going to do a little of both.

    But this is — as you know, it's a very complicated subject. And the best thing he can do tonight is bring real clarity, so — because one thing we know, while people are mixed when they're asked do you support the president's plan, when they hear what the plan is, there's strong support for it.

    Tonight's his night to give people the facts on what the plan does and what it doesn't do, and I think when he does, it will be a — there will be a very positive reaction to it.

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