By Jared Allen - 09/04/09 08:48 PM EDT
After an afternoon of phone calls to lawmakers, President Barack Obama will be meeting personally with a host of Democrats, including leaders, right up to the day of his highly anticipated congressional address on healthcare, aides to lawmakers said Friday.
Obama spent much of Friday on conference calls with lawmakers, including those Democrats most concerned that the public option will be removed from the table in the final run-up to patching a bill together.
Both the Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus sent letters to the White House on Thursday demanding the inclusion of a public option in any bill the president signs. And both groups urged Obama to use his rare address to a joint session of Congress to reaffirm his commitment to a public option.
But speculation is swirling that Obama may declare a public option important but not vital to health reform.
And according to House Democratic aides, Obama’s calls to lawmakers on Friday didn’t shed any new light on his thinking or hint at the content of his speech.
Many of those same lawmakers, though, are scheduled to travel to the White House to meet personally with Obama just before his speech, either on Tuesday or on Wednesday, the day Obama will address Congress.
As of now, Obama is slated to host the leaders of the Progressive Caucus and Tri-Caucus next week to “continue the dialogue,” as one aide put it.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are scheduled to meet with the president on Tuesday, aides said.