Obama: Health Care Overhaul Is 'Not Some Government Takeover'

Repeating much of the same rhetoric he has employed in recent days, President Obama took his health care push out West, to Montana, and continued to tout his plan while assailing critics for fear-mongering.

The president's remarks today focused on health insurance reform and specifically those whose coverage was dropped because of medical conditions.

"We're no different than ... ordinary Americans," Obama said. "We're held hostage at any given moment by health insurance companies that deny coverage ... It's wrong.

"It's bankrupting families, it's bankrupting businesses, and we're going to fix it when we pass health insurance reform this year," the president added to a cheering audience.

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Taking aim at his critics for having "selective memory," the president hailed his administration's stimulus plan but warned that the work is not complete yet.

"We started with this mess and we're pulling out of it, but it doesn't mean we're out of the woods," he said to applause. "Health insurance reform is one of the key pillars of this new foundation."

The president also dismissed notions that his overhaul plan would entail a government takeover or resemble the system in the U.K. or Canada.

"Every one of us, what we've said is, 'Let's find a uniquely American solution,'" he said. "Let's build on the system that already exists."

Video of President Obama holding a town hall event to discuss health care reform.

Obama faced approximately 1,300 attendees in a state that has historically favored Republicans and where Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took the 2008 presidential vote. The president was preceded by the state's Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has been working on a bipartisan solution to health care reform.

Tickets for the Montana event were first-come, first-serve. Both protesters and supporters were represented outside the venue where the event took place.

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Tomorrow, the president will hold a similar town hall meeting in Colorado to continue his health care push.

Democrats Up Rhetoric

While some town hall meetings have been relatively calm, in others, passions have flared. Meanwhile, supporters of health care reform have upped their rhetoric.

No stranger to the debate, former President Bill Clinton stepped into the battle last night, pointing the finger at Republicans for fueling the fire.

"The most danger to the most people is sticking with the status quo," he told a crowd of liberal activists and bloggers at a conference in Pittsburgh on Thursday. "It is bankrupting America, making families insecure and undermining the future of the country."

Clinton highlighted the urgency of passing reform, saying it is "politically imperative" that Democrats do so.

"One thing we know and that I've lived through -- if you get out there and you don't prevail -- the victors get to rewrite history," he said.

Urging Americans to keep going on reform, the former president -- whose own efforts for health care reform in office were unsuccessful -- expressed confidence that a bill will pass, even if the GOP is not on board.

"They have no chance to beat health care unless they can mortify some moderate and conservative Democrats, because they don't have the filibuster," he said.

But even if a bill were to pass, it's not going to be an easy August for lawmakers back in their home states for summer recess. For a very vocal, very angry minority of Americans, this has been a summer of discontent.

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