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Obama Prepares for Crucial Health Reform Address

As public opinion dips on health reform, President Barack Obama prepared for a crucial prime-time speech to Congress on the divisive issue.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    President Obama prepared today for a crucial prime-time speech on health care reform. He planned to address Congress and the nation this evening in the face of sliding public opinion polls.

    NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman has our lead story report.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Tonight's health care speech will be the president's attempt to reset the debate on his central legislative initiative. Mr. Obama underlined that goal on ABC's "Good Morning America."

  • U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    So the intent of the speech is to, A, make sure that the American people are clear exactly what it is that we're proposing; B, to make sure that Democrats and Republicans understand that I'm open to new ideas, that we're not being rigid and ideological about this thing, but we do intend to get something done this year.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Across the Capitol today, Republicans and Democrats laid out what they want to hear the president say.

  • REP. MIKE PENCE, R-Ind.:

    Tonight, the president has an extraordinary opportunity to lead this nation, to strike a truly bipartisan stance, to reject the ideas that the American people have rejected, and to embrace the ideas that the American people are prepared to embrace. A health care reform built on bringing real competition and real choice to our private insurance economy is the key.

  • REP. JOHN LARSON, D-Conn.:

    People are coming to the commonsense conclusions that, once they've dealt with all the misinformation and flat-out lies, in many circumstances, that now it's time for the truth to unfold. I believe that the president will be that truth deliverer this evening and that this Democratic caucus will come together and pass a bill and put it on the president's desk.

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