The night the health care reform bill passed in the House in late March, Senior Advisor David Alexrod was emotional, boldly proclaiming to staffers at the White House that passing health care was a bigger deal than the night President Obama was elected president, an article in the New York Times revealed Friday.
Axelrod reportedly said passing health care legislation would not only help average Americans but reshape the country, and that they were a part of this moment in history.
A group of about 120 White House staffers gathered on the Truman Balcony at the White House to celebrate the bill’s passage and have a champagne toast when the senior advisor made the remarks.
White House speech writer Jon Favreau told the paper, “It was as excited as I’d seen anyone since election night, since inauguration.”
He also said there was laughter in the air, with Axelrod and White House Press Secretary Gibbs telling jokes to the president, “He was laughing so hard,” Favreau said. “I’d never seen the president laugh that hard.”
Favreau also detailed in the article how one staffer asked to see the Lincoln Bedroom and the president agreed.
Obama showed off the handwritten Gettysburg Address and said, “I’m just here by myself tonight, so you can come in, check everything out.” First lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia were out of town that weekend.
“We finally realized we should probably let the president go to bed,” Favreau said. It was nearly 1:30a.m.
The invitation for the gathering came in the form of an email from the president’s personal secretary telling staffers to meet at the White House. Top aides who also attended included Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, plus some young staffers whom the president wanted there.