Washington Prowler

Rush Was Right

The Blair House turning point. Plus: Plouffe stand-up.

By 3.22.10

Some Republicans will point the President Obama's Blair House health care meeting with Republicans as the event that enabled Democrats to get to a point where the Senate health care bill could pass. During the event and immediately afterward, some Republicans were given credit for standing up to the President and attempting to get a leg up, but according to a Democrat leadership aide in the House, the event accomplished exactly what the Democrats and the White House wanted.

"It allowed us to create the impression that Republicans had had a hand. It allowed the President afterward to claim he had included Republican proposals in the bill, and gave us a clear path to moving the process along, where before we didn't," says the aide. "Your Republican friends will disagree, but the minute they agreed to that meeting, we knew we were at the least back in business."

A White House aide, who was involved in planning the media sideshow at Blair said, "If the Republicans had actually listened to Rush [Limbaugh] and [Mark] Levin and [Fred] Thompson and not attended, we might have been in different situation. Before February 25, we had no momentum, you just felt it, after the summit, when the President told Republicans that if we couldn't agree, then we'd just have to move on without them, we had a bit of a opening and no major public opinion backlash."

Karl Rove
appeared on ABC's This Week with a chart full of facts about the Obama health care bill and what it would do to the U.S. economy. Obama political consultant David Plouffe appeared with several humorous talking points provided him by the White House.

"We wanted him to be ready," says a White House communications aide. When Rove raised the issue of the damage the health care bill would cause the U.S. economy, Plouffe jumped in, saying, "Karl and the Republicans would be familiar with that. Under their leadership, they took us from big budget surpluses to a $1.3 trillion deficit."

Later, he used the line: "Karl and the Republicans have zero credibility -- about as much credibility as the country of Greece does to talk about fiscal responsibility."

Both were written for him by the White House. "Oh, we hand a bunch of these out for our surrogates when they go on TV," says the White House aide. "Especially for folks who don't really have a sense of humor."

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