Obama forging ahead on healthcare

With his August deadline in shambles, President Obama will push for healthcare reform with more domestic travel and a sustained effort to explain the need for urgency, a spokesman said.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president will deliver his message on healthcare next week at stops in Raleigh, N.C., and southwest Virginia.

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Gibbs said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) announcement Thursday that the Senate would not complete a bill before the August recess was not viewed as a disappointment by the president.

"Nobody thought we were having a signing ceremony before the beginning of the August recess," Gibbs said.

Both Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) are scheduled to meet with Obama in the Oval Office on Friday morning.

Gibbs repeated that the bottom-line goal is to see final legislation the president can sign sometime in the fall. He said Obama will bring that up with Baucus and Reid.

"I think obviously that will be one of the many topics — not just specifics, but timing," Gibbs said.

Gibbs said Obama has spoken by phone this week with committee members, including Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Enzi (Wyo.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).

Gibbs said the White House is not concerned that the delay will create a vacuum that opponents of the president's plan will be able to fill with effective opposition ads.

"Are there going to be people out there taking shots at the legislation? Sure," Gibbs said.

But with the exception of his vacation at Martha's Vineyard at the end of August, the president never had any plans to take August off even if the legislation had come out of the Senate, Gibbs said.

Gibbs said the president is aware that "he's got to be out there a lot talking about this."

When asked about the House being able to pass legislation before its recess, Gibbs pointed to an interview White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gave to National Public Radio saying they are confident it will get done.

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