"This cannot be simply the speech he's given before," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor of communication at University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication. "There now has to be an outline of an Obama bill."
On the other hand, says Kenneth Thorpe, chairman of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Emory University, "it's got to be simple, it's got to be believable and compelling, and it's got to be powerful."
• He has to come across as tough and willing to stand up for his principles while appearing magnanimous toward his political opponents and willing to compromise.
Speaking before a joint session of Congress "is a dramatic and open invitation to be pluralistic and open-minded and extend an olive branch to the other side," says Roderick Hart, dean of the College of Communication at the University of Texas.
• He must try to satisfy his liberal base, which favors a public option and generous subsidies to the uninsured, without alienating moderates who want private health care cooperatives or a public option only as a last resort.
"I think he will make clear that his bottom line is to get it done, one way or another," says Ron Pollack, executive director of the liberal health advocacy group Families USA. "If it can't get done on a bipartisan basis, he is determined to get it through the Congress this year."