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Obama, McCain Replay 2008 in Summit Spat

Echoes of the 2008 presidential campaign resurfaced at Thursday’s health care summit when President Barack Obama shut down his 2008 White House rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for bashing Democrats over the process in which they have developed health care legislation.

“Both of us during the campaign promised change in Washington. You said negotiations on health care would be conducted with CSPAN cameras. Unfortunately, this product was not produced in that fashion,” McCain said.

Instead, Democrats’ health care proposals were “produced behind closed doors. They were produced with unsavory — I say that with respect — deal-making,” McCain said.

McCain said his constituents “overwhelmingly reject this proposal and say go back to the beginning. … They want us not to do this kind of legislating.”

Obama interrupted McCain to remind him that the day’s discussion is supposed to be about policy, not process.

“We’re not campaigning any more. The election is over,” Obama said.

“I‘m reminded of that every day,” McCain said. Still, the Arizona Republican who is running for a fifth Senate term this year, pressed his point that the legislative process matters: “The American people care about what we did and how we did it.”

Obama, visibly agitated at McCain’s effort to keep focused on process, said that people “absolutely do care about it” but that the way McCain characterized the process “obviously would get some strong objections from the other side. We can have a debate about process or we can have a debate about how we’re actually going to help the American people.”

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