WASHINGTON (CNN) - With health care negotiations stalled until Congress comes back from August recess, a top Democratic strategist says President Obama and his party need to seize control of the debate.
"We need message discipline on the Democratic side," Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Donna Brazile said. "I can't speak for Republicans, but I can tell you, without message discipline, this has been a very difficult, uphill battle for the president."
Obama has spent the past week trying to put out fires sparked after his administration appeared to hedge on support for a government-run public option. Some of the greatest criticism is coming from liberals who are now threatening to vote against any bill that does not include such an option.
At a town hall meeting over the weekend, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, implored the president not to drop the public option plan and said his efforts to be bipartisan are futile.
"Yes, we know that you are a nice man, that you want to work with the opposite side of the aisle. But there comes a time when you need to drop that and move forward," she said. "We're saying to you, Mr. President, 'Be tough. Use everything that you've got. Do what you have to do. And we have your back.' "
At town hall meetings held by members of Congress in the past few weeks, angry voters have voiced concerns about government involvement in health care. Some have even resorted to violence and vocal anger. Watch more on the public option debate »
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, a liberal economist and Nobel Prize winner, said Monday that the debate over the public option is "dismaying in some ways."