Four GOP senators stand, applaud Obama's 'death panel' dismissal

Just a few Republicans joined Democrats in applauding President Obama's debunking of the "death panels" claim during his healthcare speech Wednesday, but which GOP members they were might be telling.

GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine), Robert Bennett (Utah) and Judd Gregg (N.H.) stood up and clapped when Obama dismissed the suggestion that Democratic healthcare reform would lead to "panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens."

"Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible," Obama said. "It is a lie, plain and simple."

Four or five House Republicans also appeared to stand and applaud Obama's remark, but it's unclear which ones they were.

The charge had been made by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), among others. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), whose support has been courted by Democrats, told constituents last month they were right to worry about a government program that would determine whether to "pull the plug on grandma."

Most Republicans remained seated silently as Obama called the death panel attack the best example of "bogus claims spread by those whose agenda is to kill reform at any cost."

Snowe, however, has been the one Senate Republican who seems most open to Democratic overtures for a bipartisan deal. She has spoken to the White House about a bill that would create a public insurance option after private insurers fail to reduce costs and increase quality of care.

Collins, though not involved in healthcare negotiations, tends to vote the same way as her centrist colleague from Maine.

While Bennett hasn't been mentioned as a possible vote for the Democratic plan, he has proposed his own bipartisan health reform plan with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

As for Gregg, a fierce critic of Obama's fiscal policies, he may have been standing up just because he was sitting between the Maine senators.