September 7th, 2009
08:18 PM ET
14 years ago

Aides: President to be 'very forceful' in Wednesday address

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="In a speech on Labor Day, the president revived his trademark 'fired up, ready to go' motto from the 2008 campaign. Aides tell CNN the Wednesday address to Congress will also be fiery."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama plans to get much more assertive when he addresses a joint session of Congress Wednesday night at a critical stage in the health-care debate.

Top aides say his fiery Labor Day speech to an organized-labor crowd in Ohio was a preview of a more passionate case for reform that's coming later this week.

The top aides say the president is putting his own strong imprint on the speech to Congress. After advisers last week submitted various thoughts on what the speech should say, Obama spent much of the weekend at Camp David crafting the actual address, which currently is running about 37 minutes in draft form.

"He will be very forceful," one senior Obama aide said about the tone of the speech. "He will be making the case for action."

A second senior Obama aide said that while the president knows that a rousing organized labor crowd is a much different audience than a joint session of Congress - along with millions of Americans watching on television Wednesday night - Monday's speech set the stage for what will be a more aggressive case for reform than the public has seen thus far.

"He will make a strong case Wednesday night on what health-care reform means to Americans," the second aide said on Monday. "Today you began to see a preview of what you will see Wednesday night."

In Monday's speech, the president got fired up as he told a supportive crowd in Cincinnati that the country could no longer wait for reform after a vigorous debate that has lasted several months.

"The debate has been good, and that's important because we've got to get this right," Obama said to applause. "But every debate at some point comes to an end. At some point, it's time to decide. At some point, it's time to act. Ohio, it's time to act and get this thing done."

Top aides acknowledge the obvious: Obama has to come up big on Wednesday night to save the reform effort, with one senior aide saying "he's at his best" in a pressure situation like this.

But the top aides are also insistent that the media has focused far too much attention on angry town-hall events in recent weeks, and the Obama inner circle believes they are much closer to scoring a legislative touchdown than pundits are giving them credit for. "We're on the 10-yard line," said one senior aide.

Top aides also continue to say the president will be more specific on Wednesday night than he has been previously about what he wants included in the reform bill, though they're still cagey on what he will tell Congress about major provisions such as the public option.

Aides say the president believes the option of government-run health care is a "valuable tool" but refuse to speculate on whether he would be willing to drop the option in order to score a legislative deal.

In his Monday speech, the president once again voiced support for a public option but mentioned it only briefly in one sentence - and did not offer a passionate defense for it.

"I continue to believe that a public option within that basket of insurance choices will help improve quality and bring down costs," he said before quickly moving on to other aspects of reform.

Filed under: Congress • Extra • Health care • President Obama
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. Danny J

    Maybe he'll surprise me, but I suspect he's approaching this all wrong, and is going to make matters worse. I predict an epic fail.

    September 8, 2009 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  2. xargaw

    Let us hope that for the sake of the American people and this President that he comes across forcefully that any reform MUST contain a strong public option. If there is no public option, it is simply not worth doing and, in fact, may be worse than doing nothing at all. If the President fails to give Americans a public option, it will cost him his base. That is not hype. His former campaign staffers and volunteers are on the war path at this very moment.

    September 8, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  3. Won't do any good......

    no Public more deficit spending....

    September 8, 2009 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  4. Tom

    They are going the nuclear option. They have no choice. Nobody is scared of Obama with his sinking approval. The moderate Dems will not be on board, but they are still screwed. What a mess for them politically in 2010.

    September 8, 2009 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  5. Johnny DC

    Because that's how our government works. The President can be "forceful" to the Legislative Branch whenever he feels like it?

    It's called veto power, and it's constitutionally protected. He doesn't get to "force" legislation though. He can only block it.

    This guy cracks me up. Rewriting the Constitution one week after another.

    September 8, 2009 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  6. name

    Good, Congress needs to get shaken out of its apathy and inaction on this issue thus far. I only hope the new offensive will not negatively affect the millions of Americans already clueless and misinformed on health reform so far.

    September 8, 2009 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  7. manhandler

    So should I be scared now or wait till after the speech? Gotta wonder what his definition of forceful might be because it sure hasn't been displayed for the last 9 months. Was he being forceful when he stood by while his justice dept. argued to keep the stupid "don't ask, don't tell" policy when he said he was against it, or how about when they argued in favor of the defense of marriage act when he said he was against it?? Or how about when they decided to look into the torture thing when he said he was against it? If you're not a leader, who cares wheteher you're forceful or not. This man is mush.

    September 8, 2009 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  8. Michelle

    It's about time. Enough trying to work with Republicans, some of whom have stated publicly that they aren't even going to bother reading the bill because they'll vote against it no matter what. They're all Newt Gingrich's lapdogs – committed to the party, not to doing what's best for the American people. So just get the job done, Mr. President. We got you elected to make change, not to make nice with stubborn fools that won't do the job for which they were elected.

    September 8, 2009 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  9. Wade

    Someone needs to remind the President that he leads, he does not rule.
    Getting "forceful" with a branch of the government that does not answer to him is equivalent to him throwing a temper tantrum for net getting his way.
    Read the Constitution Mr. President, Congress does not answer to you, they answer to the people.

    A "Public Option" is not reform, it's a step towards a complete government take over of health care.

    September 8, 2009 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  10. Daniel

    I will believe he has a spine after he passes a pulic option. Otherwise he is all talk and no do. Like Obama has said you can tell more about a person by the things he can do.

    September 8, 2009 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  11. Jasaah

    It is time to tell these socall rep. and senetors how to run this nation because they have been playing with human nature like eating a piece of cake from the hands of your wife.
    Good Luck and wish you all God blessing.

    September 8, 2009 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  12. A concern citizen

    It is about time president Obama to fight back. Enough is enough! all the critics, the lies about the healthcare the special interest orchestred, the hatred...He needs to fight every little critics..they are all false, just because for the first time in our history we have a president who cares, who wants to help people, the middle class, because of that he is a communist, a socialist, and he wants to brainwash little kid..oh boy!!!!!!RIDICULOUS!!!! AMERICA where are you?? WAKE UP!!

    September 8, 2009 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  13. Doc

    It's about time! The republicans never planned to go along with anything proposed by the opposite party. The democrats should treat the republicans just as they would if they were in charge. Roll over them and let the chips fall as they may!! This is what the majority truly want.

    September 8, 2009 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
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