WASHINGTON (CNN) – A Democratic congressman - likening the Obama administration's health-care message to a movie character with a multiple personality disorder - said he expects the president's speech Wednesday night to bring focus.
"Up to now the messaging from the White House has been done by Sybil: It's like every time they seem to have a different perspective on this every couple of hours," said Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York, referring to the title character in a 1976 made-for-television movie.
"But now the big guy is going to have his say," he added.
A liberal who supports a single-payer health-care system for much of the population, Weiner argued that President Barack Obama's speech will be a critical moment to make the push for a public option.
"The president of the United States gets to stand up and say, 'I want this in the bill and I'm prepared to fight for it,'" he said. "... You never get 60 votes in the Senate or a majority in the House without the president standing up and saying, 'I really need this and I'm prepared to fight for it.'
"It's that or retreat. Those are really the two options and President Obama doesn't strike me as someone who wants to have a retreat on his signature issue."
But Weiner also admitted, "As we stand here today, there's probably not the votes for anything. We need the president to say what he wants."
Another New York Democrat who favors a strong public option, Rep Elliot Engel, told reporters, "I look at the president's speech tonight as the opening salvo in the Democratic counteroffensive, because we really believe that once the issues are explained correctly the American people will be on our side."
Engel said that while he expects Obama to put a strong emphasis on the need for a government-run insurance plan, he doesn't expect him to demand that Congress pass a bill with a public option
"We have to go on the offensive in a united fashion and I think you don't do that by drawing a line in the sand, " he said.