President Obama made a surprise appearance before the White House’s daily press briefing to announce that both the American Medical Association and the AARP have endorsed the House version of the healthcare reform bill. This move was a not subtle, but effective upstaging of the tea party healthcare protest.
Here is the video of Obama:
President Obama said of the AARP, “When it comes to the AARP this is no small endorsement. For more than 50 years they have been a leader the fight to reduce the costs of healthcare and expand coverage for our senior citizens. They are a non partisan organization, and their board made the decision to endorse only after a careful, intensive, objective scrutiny of this bill. They’re endorsing this bill because they know it will strengthen Medicare, not jeopardize it. They know it will protect the benefits our seniors receive, not cut them, so I want everybody to remember that the next time you hear the same tired arguments to the contrary from the insurance companies and their lobbyists, and remember this endorsement the next time you see a bunch of misleading ads on television.”
On the AMA endorsement he said, “These are men and women who know our healthcare system best, and have been watching this debate closely. They would not be supporting it if they really believed that it would lead to government bureaucrats making decisions that are best left to doctors. They would not be with us if that believed that reform would in any way damage the critical and sacred doctor patient relationship. Instead they’re supporting reform because they have seen firsthand what’s broken about our healthcare system…The doctors of America know what needs to be fixed about our healthcare system. They know that health insurance reform would go a long way towards doing that.”
It is no coincidence that President Obama himself announced these endorsements today. This was a fine use of the bully pulpit to turn the focus back toward Obama’s healthcare message. It seems that the White House learned their lesson from the tea party town hall disruptions. They did not let Bachmann’s tea party publicity stunt go unchallenged today.
Bachmann’s protest has not generated nearly the amount of media coverage that the tea baggers had hoped for. By my calculations, each of the cable networks only gave them about 20-25 minutes of live coverage. Even Fox News opted to stream the whole event on their website, instead of covering it live.
On the other hand, Obama’s statement was covered live and has been all over cable news this afternoon. It looks like this White House is finally flexing their muscle in the message war on healthcare.