Dennis Kucinich in Obama's Crosshairs Over Obamacare!

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:40pm.

Air Force One took off from suburban Maryland today at 11:13 a.m. and landed 48 minutes later in Cleveland... For Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) -- who says he plans to vote no on the president's health-care bill -- it must have felt like a much longer flight.

Obama invited Kucinich and undecided Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) to the ultimate pressure cooker as he tries to nail down a majority for his top domestic priority.

What was said at 35,000 feet is anyone's guess, and Kucinich is -- for once -- not talking. The president talked one on one with Kucinich aboard Air Force One on the flight, a White House spokesman said. But Obama's onetime presidential rival just smiled as he walked across the tarmac upon arrival in his home state.

"I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say," Kucinich said. A spokesman in his D.C. office said the congressman was politely declining all requests for interviews today.

But there was a public hint of the kind of pressure he is under. When Obama introduced Kucinich at his rally in Strongsville, in the congressman's suburban Cleveland district, someone in the audience called out, "Vote yes."

Obama, not missing a beat, turned to his traveling partner. "Did you hear that, Dennis?" he asked.

Near the end of his speech, Obama said he had told Kucinich on the flight: "You know what? It's been such a long time since we made government on the side of ordinary working folks, where we did something for them that relieved some of their struggles."

Kucinich has said he plans to vote against the health-care legislation because it does not contain a public option. That unwavering stand has drawn the ire of other liberals, who have accused him of a Ralph Nader-esque approach to politics.

"It's not perfect," Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas said of the current health-care legislation in an appearance on MSNBC. "But it's a first step, and God knows it's taken us a long time to even get our toe in the door... If somebody like Kucinich wants to block that, I find that completely reprehensible."

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) flew back to Washington aboard Air Force One with Obama and several other lawmakers. He said Kucinich has been hearing the same message repeatedly.

"All of us -- the governor, the congressional delegation, the president -- are making clear to Dennis that we won't have another chance for a decade if this doesn't happen," Brown said, referring to Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), a former member of Congress who was in the audience Monday.

Pressure on Kucinich, who favors a more aggressive health-care overhaul, is also coming from elsewhere, said Brown, a strong backer of the reform effort. He said his office has been flooded with letters, e-mail and telephone messages from Ohioans who have lost their insurance and want the Democratic-led Congress to act.

"Dennis," Brown said, "is getting those same calls and letters."

Michael D. Shear - Peter Slevin - March 15, 2010 - source WashingtonPost

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:40pm.