White House Confronts False Claims About Health Care Reform

Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter said in an interview on "This Week" that he supports Americans' right to organize, but warned that recent town hall ruckus from critics of the Democrats' health care proposals are not representative of the public's view on the issue.

"I think we have to bear in mind that although those people need to be heard and have a right to be heard that they are not really representative of America, in my opinion," Specter said on ABC's "This Week."

He noted, "We have to be careful here not to let those town meetings make the scene that influences what we do on health policy."

Town Halls: A Wide Represention of America

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch was quick to disagree with Specter, saying the heat surrounding town halls recently represent people who are "up in arms" with anger.

During a head-to-head debate between the two senators on "This Week," Hatch complimented Specter on his handling of the town halls but said recent uprising was genuine.

"Having listened to Arlen, I have to say that I thought Arlen handled his town meetings very, very well," said Hatch. "I disagree with Arlen that they're not representative of the American people. I think they are. I've found people just up in arms everywhere I've gone on health care."

Specter has been in the crossfires this week during town hall debates in his own district. He pointed out recent comments by John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, referring to efforts from critics to make this the president's 'Waterloo' issue.

"We also can't allow these kinds of town hall meetings to dominate the political process," Hatch said. "That would be destructive of what we need to do to figure out what is the best approach."

White House Is "Off the Mark"

Democratic strategist and ABC contributor Donna Brazile criticized the White House's messaging center today during the roundtable discussion on "This Week", saying "the administration has been "off the mark" for several weeks" but added that "there's signs now that they have gotten control of their message and with this op-ed, but more importantly with the town hall meetings."

Ed Gillespie, former White House counselor to President George W. Bush, joined Brazile, Ron Brownstein of the National Journal and the Washington Post's Anne Kornblut.

Kornblut said she agrees that the White House lost its control of messaging, especially with the media attention former vice presidential Republican nominee Palin received from her posting about "death panels" on her Facebook page.

"At the end of the day, they were responding to her, not the other way around," Kornblut said.

Sarah Palin May 'Contribute to Her Long-Term Marginalization'

The National Journal's Brownstein also agreed with Kornblut about her assessment of Palin, but went even further. He said, "The basic problem Sarah Palin has as a political figure is that she is kind of the king or queen of a narrowing island and this does that further."

Brownstein went on to say, "I think in many ways this will contribute to her long-term marginalization as a potential president if not a potential leader of the Republican Party."

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