CBS 'Early Show' Declares Obama 'On the Offensive' on Health Care

Barack Obama, CBS At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "President Obama makes a tough final push, going on the offensive against health insurance companies. Will it work?" Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez gushed: "It looked like a campaign rally yesterday with President Obama center-stage taking his fight for health care reform out of Washington and into America's heartland."

White House correspondent Bill Plante followed up Rodriguez's fawning intro by reporting: "It did indeed look like a campaign. I'll tell you, the President is racing hard to get across the finish line with health care reform. He's trying to convince the public to ignore what he calls 'Washington's obsession with keeping score in politics.'" An on-screen headline read: "Obama on the Offensive; Attacks Insurers In Latest Push for Reform."

Plante ignored the Obama administration's constant political score-keeping and instead lamented how despite the President "taking on the pundits and the political establishment...polls show Mr. Obama has an uphill battle." Plante cited a recent Gallup poll showing 49% of Americans oppose ObamaCare, though failed to point out that only 42% of respondents in that poll favored the plan.

On Thursday, the Early Show claimed that ObamaCare was on the "fast-track" to being passed.

Rather than feature any Republican opponents of the legislation in his piece, Plante simply summed up the GOP response this way: "Republicans are calling the President's pitch 'snake oil' and predicting failure." He then added: "Still, Mr. Obama vows to push ahead."

Plante concluded that the "reason for the President's urgent tone" was "the insurance industry is planning to mount a comeback campaign, an ad campaign for about a million dollars, this week."

Following Plante's report, Smith discussed the President's latest push with Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer. Smith noted how Obama's "trying to get public support for this and in our latest CBS News poll, 52% of the public concerned about the economy versus health care. He's got an uphill fight here." Schieffer argued: "I think they would tell you in the White House that this was the President's signature issue. This is what he campaigned on, was getting health care for all Americans." Schieffer added: "I don't question his sincerity. I also think it's – he thinks it's the right thing to do."

Smith then wondered about the amount of support for ObamaCare in Congress: "Does he have the numbers?" Schieffer replied: "No, he does not have the numbers. And one test of how you can always tell when they have the votes is that leaders in the Congress bring it to a vote. I don't think there's anybody who would say that at this point the President has the votes in the House of Representatives to get this passed."

Schieffer went on to highlight the President's tactic of going after health insurance companies: "a very important shift. He suddenly is not so much running against Republicans as he's running against the insurance companies themselves....this is the shift, this is what is different now." Plante made a similar observation in his report: "The new strategy, raise the temperature on insurance companies, and hope audiences, like the one in Pennsylvania Monday, will pressure Congress to pass the bill." In reality, Obama and the Democrats have been employing that failing strategy for months.   

Here is a full transcript of Plante's report:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: And now to health care reform. It looked like a campaign rally yesterday with President Obama center-stage taking his fight for health care reform out of Washington and into America's heartland. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante is at the White House this morning with more on how the President is turning up the heat. Good morning, Bill.

BILL PLANTE: Good morning, Maggie. It did indeed look like a campaign. I'll tell you, the President is racing hard to get across the finish line with health care reform. He's trying to convince the public to ignore what he calls 'Washington's obsession with keeping score in politics.'

BARACK OBAMA: What does it mean for your poll numbers? Is this good for the Democrats or good for the Republicans? Who won the news cycle?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama on the Offensive; Attacks Insurers In Latest Push for Reform]

PLANTE: The President may be taking on the pundits and the political establishment, but polls show Mr. Obama has an uphill battle. 49% of those in a Gallup poll now oppose the Obama health care plan and in a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, the bitter fight left 48% believing that the President has spent too much time on the issue and 52% saying he's spent too little time on the economy and jobs.

JOHN DICKERSON: Everybody who's looking for an explanation of what went wrong is now focusing on the staffers inside the White House. What these stories miss, though, is the fact that it's the President who has kept going forward on health care.

PLANTE: The new strategy, raise the temperature on insurance companies and hope audiences, like the one in Pennsylvania Monday, will pressure Congress to pass the bill.

OBAMA: They're telling their investors this, 'we are in the money, we are going to keep on making big profits even though a lot of folks are going to be put under hardship.'

PLANTE: But Republicans are calling the President's pitch 'snake oil' and predicting failure. Still, Mr. Obama vows to push ahead.

OBAMA: I don't know how passing health care will play politically. But I do know that it's the right thing to do.

PLANTE: There's a reason for the President's urgent tone, time is short. The insurance industry is planning to mount a comeback campaign, an ad campaign for about a million dollars, this week.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC