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Obama team hits the road to promote health law as site struggles

 

While President Obama's tech team hunkers down to try fixing the ailing HealthCare.gov website, a cadre of the president's closest advisers are closely following the crisis script -- by hitting the campaign trail. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, instead of testifying at a hearing on Thursday, visited an ObamaCare call center in Phoenix where she also rebuffed Republican calls for her resignation. 

"The majority of people calling for me to resign I would say are people who I don't work for, and who do not want this program to work in the first place," she said. 

On Friday, Sebelius was visiting San Antonio and Austin. 

Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn questioned why she was there. "If she's still confused about who exactly she works for and if she hasn't come ready to answer questions about why hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on a botched product, she might as well not visit," he said in a statement. 

The visits are part of a multi-city tour by White House officials and Cabinet secretaries to "directly reach uninsured Americans." They are hitting up cities with high rates of uninsured, where they will encourage people to sign up. 

Meanwhile, Obama is setting out on a series of fundraising stops Friday, heading to New York City for two Democratic Party events. 

Yet on the sidelines, the newly hired fix-it team is trying to address major problems with the ObamaCare website. The Republican National Committee mocked Obama for taking the show on the road "while ObamaCare continues to derail." 

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held its first hearing on the matter Thursday where four contractors testified -- and claimed that part of the problem was the administration did not allow enough time for testing. 

Sebelius will have her turn in the hearing room next Wednesday. 

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the committee, told Fox News that while contractors were certainly pointing fingers at each other, the problem "goes up the ladder" to HHS. 

"This is a serious attempt to figure out what went wrong. And the taxpayers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to develop a system. The administration told us, it was going to work. No problem. They looked us in the eye," he said. "No one knows how this thing is working at all." 

On Friday, the administration announced that QSSI, a contractor who worked on the site, was being promoted as a general contractor overseeing the repairs of the entire system. 

Hearings aren't Obama's only problem pertaining to the health care law. 

Restless Democrats who are running for re-election next year are starting to join Republicans in calling for a delay of the law's individual mandate. They, like Republicans, argue it's unfair to force Americans to buy insurance when the main system to help them is not yet fully operational. 

The administration, in response, is stressing that individuals will have until the end of March to enroll. Contractors testified Thursday that the system should be all ready before the start of 2014. 

The rest of the cities and regions on the ObamaCare tour are: Dallas, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, Tampa, Orlando, Detroit, and northern New Jersey.