By Mike Soraghan - 08/27/09 01:10 PM EDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is raising money for Democratic campaigns with an appeal to counter Republicans’ “outrageous smears” on healthcare.
“The August fundraising deadline is our last chance to show the grassroots momentum behind real reform before Congress returns to Washington, D.C.,” Pelosi wrote.
In an August recess dominated by town hall shout-fests, Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over who has the most “grassroots” support. Both sides have accused the other of manufacturing “AstroTurf” support.
“We must be able to counter their special interest-funded attacks and set the record straight,” Pelosi said.
Supporters of the initiative have claimed that industry groups and conservative organizations are behind much of the opposition to the plan that has been demonstrated at town halls. In response, unions and Democratic organizations have started turning their members out at the events.
Republicans responded that Pelosi's problems aren't with Republicans but voters and members of her own party.
“The only ‘smears’ in this debate are the intra-party attacks in Speaker Pelosi’s own caucus, not to mention her own offensive remarks assailing concerned citizens as ‘un-American,'" said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Paul Lindsay. "Democrats need to start facing the fact that they have lost August and, with it, any hope of reviving an unpopular government-run healthcare plan.”
The letter was sent to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's full grassroots list, according to a DCCC spokesman.
The letter also stressed Pelosi's support for a government-run “public option” to compete with private health insurance plans.
Obama has been playing down the importance of a public option, saying it's not the “entirety” of his initiative, but “just one sliver of it.” His Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, has said it is “not an essential part of reform.”
This story was updated at 2:13 p.m.