"I think that the beginning of it, they did it well ... but they let the message get out of control," said ABC News consultant and former Bush administration strategist Matthew Dowd. "Opponents have seized on that and have been able to sort of push back and actually move poll numbers that started out in support of this bill, and now moved against it.
"I think the White House is trying its best to regrab hold of the message and try to resell this thing to the American public," Dowd told "Good Morning America."
In city after city, Democrats are encountering angry, and in some cases, raucous crowds.
In State College, Pa., Specter faced a jeering crowd, although it dimmed next to the town hall showdown on Tuesday, where even the extra police couldn't stop the raging crowd, some of whom hurled allegations that Specter was not abiding by the Constitution and not representing their interests.
"You have awakened a sleeping giant," one town hall attendee told Specter. "We are tired of this. This is why everybody in this room is so ticked off. I don't want this country turning into Russia, turning into a socialized country."
In Missouri, a visibly frustrated Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., was greeted Tuesday by a heckling crowd that loudly chanted, "No," when she asked if they trusted her.
Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., cancelled his speech at a middle school Friday after rumors spread that it would be a public forum on health care. His fellow congressman, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., faced a rowdy audience at a town hall meeting Saturday and was met with loud boos.
For some, it has become even more extreme. A swastika was painted outside Rep. David Scott's Georgia office, and the Democrat believes it has everything to do with the heated health care debate that arose at a town hall meeting he organized Aug. 1.
Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., said he cancelled some health care town halls because he received two death threats.
"I'm kind of disinclined to hold town hall meetings if people are going to be angry and belligerent," Moore told ABC's radio affiliate KMBZ. "If people are going to be civil and respectful, I'm all for having those conversations. But public safety has to be a concern."
The president Tuesday addressed some of the dynamics playing out in the debate.
"The way politics works sometimes is that people who want to keep things the way they are will try to scare the heck out of folks, and they'll create boogeymen out there that just aren't real," Obama told the crowd in Portsmouth, which seemingly was full of his supporters, unlike the protestors outside.
The White House insisted that none of the attendees were pre-screened. Some attendees told ABC News they got their tickets through their local lawmakers or through a White House lottery at whitehouse.gov.
Obama's message Tuesday was targeted to a slightly different audience than his previous addresses. Instead of talking about the uninsured, the president focused more on what the elderly and the insured would get out of his plan. But in trying to curb concerns, he also didn't hold back in criticizing his opponents.