Obama By Phone

President Obama will use a telephone conference call again today to speak to supporters, trying to encourage them to keep fighting for health care reform efforts in the Congress.

"These struggles always boil down to a contest between hope and fear," the President said on Wednesday in a conference call with more liberal religious leaders.

"I'm going to need the help of all of you," Mr. Obama said, "I'm going to need you to knock on doors, talk to your neighbors."

Today, the President will travel to the Democratic National Committee headquarters not far from the Capitol to speak to supporters by phone.  That spurred MoveOn.org to send out an appeal for supporters to rally outside, warning that "right-wing groups are mobilizing to protest."

"With the president there in person and the national media watching, we need a huge show of progressive support for real health care reform--including a strong public health insurance option," said an email from the liberal group last night.

"We know President Obama wants a public health insurance option--as he has said many times, it's the best way to lower costs, expand coverage, and keep the insurance companies honest," said MoveOn's Nita Chaudhary.

That issue was the subject of another day of back-and-forth at the White House briefing, as Press Secretary Robert Gibbs again sparred with reporters about what the President and Administration officials have said in recent days about a public option.

Gibbs though wouldn't draw a line in the sand on the issue.

MR. GIBBS:  No, I'm going to reiterate what the President has said all along, Helen.  The President believes we have to have choice and competition.  In a private insurance market where people are entering, they have to have the ability to choose among insurers that will drive down their costs and improve their quality.  His preference is for a public option.  If there are others that have ideas about how we can institute choice and competition, he's happy to look at those.

Q    Will he fight for the public option?

MR. GIBBS:  We will fight for whatever is best that brings about that choice and competition.  That's what the President always maintained and that's what we've continued to say.

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