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Can Obama get healthcare momentum back?

The administration is reviving several tactics that helped him get elected. But the opposition is aggressive, and Congress won’t be back in session for weeks.

President Barack Obama speaks about heath care during a town hall meeting at Central High School in Grand Junction, Colo. Saturday.

Alex Brandon/AP

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Can President Obama regain the upper hand in the healthcare debate?

That’s of course what he was trying to do this past week at town-hall meetings – one in New Hampshire and two in the Mountain West.

By and large, Mr. Obama commanded respect during the proceedings. No angry eruptions, no yelling at the president (although those opposed to his plan did get plenty of air time outside). The civil tone itself represented a shift in the debate.

But the fact remains that Americans, according to polls, are wary of changes to the healthcare system. And Obama has a long way to go before any reform legislation could land on his desk: It’s only Aug. 16, and Congress, which has been wrestling with several versions of healthcare reform, won’t even be back in session until after Labor Day (which is late this year, on Sept. 7). Plus, Obama and his family plan to take a vacation in late August.

“The debate continues, and we’ll see whether numbers move or change as a result of the continuing debate,” Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary, said recently.

To make its case for reform, the administration is reviving several tactics that helped Obama get elected last fall. The White House has created a “Reality Check” website, which attempts to explain the healthcare proposals being considered. With a similar explanatory aim, Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod has produced an e-mail for viral distribution.


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