President Obama has finished trying to turn the Republican tide on health care reform and is now focusing his sights on average Americans. It is through their prism that Mr. Obama hopes to prod members of congress to urgently pass his health care reform legislation and he did so in full-on campaign style Monday in Pennsylvania.
A deafening crowd welcomed the President to Arcadia University, just north of Philadelphia, where Mr. Obama told them he gets it.
"We need to give families and businesses more control over their own health insurance and that's why we need to pass health care reform; not next year, not five years from now, not ten years from now. But now."
But what is it exactly that brings the President to the Philadelphia area? If you ask the Republican National Committee, it's salvaging the faltering campaign of Democratic Senator Arlen Specter. Ironically, the group says, it's the health care reform push that is taking its toll on his re-election bid.
The RNC cited a February Franklin and Marshall College Poll Monday as evidence. The poll says only 30% of Pennsylvanians approve of the job Senator Specter is doing compared to a 52% approval rating last March, when the health care debate began.
Mr. Obama's aides say his visit was not about elections. "I wouldn't say that this is about any specific targeting in that sense," Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters. "I mean, if you look at where we're going, it doesn't really have an impact on a particular member. But Philadelphia is a place where they are seeing these rising costs really crush their -- crush families and businesses and local government."
The President is in his comfort zone in such public settings. He has hit the road before on behalf of his health care agenda.
But this time, the message is more urgent. As Mr. Obama traverses the country-- hitting St. Louis on Wednesday-- will members of Congress feel the nudge of their constituents enough to get on board with his health care agenda? There isn't much time left to find out. The White House has said they want a House-passed bill by the time President Obama heads overseas on March 18.