As support for the public option hits a speed bump or two in the House Democratic Caucus, the White House is continuing to side with the American public:
Q Can you talk about the opt-in versus opt-out public option? It seems like there's apparently a vote being taken as you and I speak this moment in a caucus in the House on all of this. Do you -- does the President believe that some sort of public option will be in both bills when they pass the floors? And does he favor some particular approach to the public option that he thinks is the most likely to pass?
MR. BURTON: This may surprise you, but the President didn't send his number two spokesperson to the back of the plane to roll out a new position on the public option today. (Laughter.) The President thinks that the public option is the best way to achieve choice and competition and bring down health care costs for the American people. And he will continue to ensure that it is achieved in the final health care reform legislation.
Q Can you tell us what the President's message was to the congressional leaders that came to the White House last night? There wasn't much by way of a readout last night.
MR. BURTON: The President and leadership from the Senate had a very productive conversation about the way forward as it relates to health care reform, and they're going to continue to work day and night to make sure that it gets done.
Q Did he communicate what he and Pelosi talked about during their lunch?
MR. BURTON: I don't know at that level of granularity whether or not he talked about another conversation in that conversation that was in the Oval Office. But they all talked about health care reform and how we achieve it.
Q So it was productive but not robust?
MR. BURTON: I'm sorry, it was productive and robust. Thank you.
Q What's going on with the vote counts? Valerie took a shot at Mike Allen this morning on MS saying that he probably -- she doesn't know if he can count votes. The White House obviously can count votes. Are there the votes there in the House for the public option?
MR. BURTON: Far be it from me to question Valerie's assessment of Mike Allen's vote counting. However, I will say that the President continues to think that the public option is the best way to achieve choice and competition, and that's what he's working towards.
Q But are the votes there?
MR. BURTON: We're working on getting health care reform done, and in order to do that, obviously you're going to need some votes in the United States Senate to move it forward, and that's what we're working on.
Earlier today, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett said President Obama was "committed to the public option" and that the White House "would keep pushing until the very last moment."
If things continue along this general path, with the White House growing increasingly more vocal on the public option and House and Senate leadership solidifying behind the public option, we may see a repeat of the arc of the 2008 campaign.
Remember how in July and August of 2008, everybody thought the whole world was falling in the Obama campaign, and then in September and October we saw the utter humiliation of John McCain? Thing happened that way because what mattered was the vote in November.
It's the same idea this time around: what matters is the final vote. Not what happened last month, or the month before.