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Democrats Counting on Obama to Deliver in Speech

Democrats are pinning hopes and even careers on President Barack Obama to win over the public with Wednesday night’s speech on health care reform after aggressive GOP tactics cost them momentum over the August recess.“He must knock the ball out of the park. He must deliver the type of speech that Lyndon Johnson delivered on March 15, 1965, when he came to the Congress and defended the Voting Rights Act,— Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said.Lewis said Obama’s words “must come with passion— in order to bring people together from both parties and across the country.Asked how to define “hit it out of the park,— Lewis said Obama simply needs to be straight with the American public.“He just says this is it. We do this or we’re going to continue to have [millions] of our people without any health insurance and the costs will go up up up. That’s not good for the future of the country,— he said.If Obama fails to deliver a speech with a punch, there will be “a lot of disappointed people— and it “may lessen the possibility— of being able to pass health care reform, the Georgia lawmaker said.“Let’s just say, we just must do it,— he added.House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said his advice to Obama for the speech is to just “be Obama.—“He’s such a persuasive guy,— Rangel said. “Some people are going to be happy no matter what he says, some are going to be unhappy no matter what he says.—Rangel said it is “above my pay grade— to say whether Democrats’ expectations are too high for Obama’s speech.Members of the Congressional Black Caucus held a press event to reiterate their support for a public insurance option in health care reform — something that CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said she is “confident— Obama will bolster in his remarks.Members of the CBC sought to frame health care reform as the next front in the battle for civil rights.“We stand here today because we’re in a movement. This is a repeat of the civil rights movement. … We’re going to move this movement and we’re going to be ready to win,— Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said.CBC members said some opposition to the health care bill has been motivated by racism, although they sought to distance themselves from appearing to play the race card.“Is racism a part of this debate? It is. If you look what happened in my case, it points that out,— said Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), whose district office was defaced by a four-foot swastika during the August recess.However, Scott said, “We stand firm in our affirmation to make sure that race is not a major player as we move forward in getting health care for all of America’s people.—Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) blasted Republicans and the media for slowing momentum on health care reform. The reason Democrats lost on messaging over the August recess, he said, is because they were “out-lied— by Republicans.Republicans are “usually not collectively all dishonest, but there’s always somebody very dishonest on every issue. The war. The two elections,— Conyers said. In the meantime, the media was “abysmally failing in their responsibility— to report the facts of health care reform as GOP lawmakers spread false information, he said.Conyers also criticized Democrats for not being able to advance an issue that is core to their party.“The Democrats are not very unified,— Conyers said. “The Blue Dogs, half of them vote Republican all the time anyway. Come on. Then you’ve got the New Democrats … then some freshman Members from marginal districts who feel politically this could cost them their seat. Now you’ve got progressives saying … if there isn’t a strong public option, they will be voting against the bill.—Asked what Democrats are doing to unify their party, Conyers said, “Eight o’clock tonight.—

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