TAPPER: What's the president's message for liberals or progressives who feel that a health care reform plan without a public option is — is non-negotiable, as he's been told, that it must have a public option or they will not vote for it?
GIBBS: Well, I don't want to get ahead — too far ahead of the president, in terms of the speech, or drawing lines. I think I would reiterate what a number of us said over the weekend, and that is that the president continues to believe that increasing choice and competition through additional options for people to get health insurance is tremendously important. I think what you'll hear the president talk about, again, is, sort of, what we talked about over the weekend, understanding what the public option is and what the public option isn't — and I tried to do this some as well.
For the vast majority of Americans that get their insurance primarily through their employer or if they're on Medicare, Medicaid, or receive their health care through the V.A., the public option is not going to impact your health care What the public option will do is provide that additional choice and competition for people, primarily those in the private, individual insurance market or in the small group or small-business insurance market. The story I used over the weekend was, a friend of mine in Alabama who started a small business in January — one of the first thing that he had to do was find insurance for his family. He went into the individual — private insurance market, a market in Alabama that's comprised — 89 percent of the market is comprised of one company, Blue Cross, Blue Shield. He likes his insurance, and his family's healthy and he was lucky enough to get it. Other small-business owners that he's talked to haven't been as fortunate. They were denied coverage or had trouble finding something that covered either their family or — or their employees. And he understands that if his coverage for — if he loses coverage somehow, his family gets sick, he'd be in a real tough spot. So I think the president will discuss both what the public option isn't and what the public option is in terms of being choice and competition.
TAPPER: But if he supports it, why won't he draw a line in the sand over it? And…
GIBBS: Well, I don't want to get ahead of where the president — there will be an extensive conversation about this tomorrow.
TAPPER: Well, OK. One other question, then. You talked about all the things the president is going to do in the speech. And with the exception of the last one — how we move forward from here — none of them are new. He's been making the argument about security and stability for health care reform — what it means to people who have insurance, what it means to people who don't have insurance, what's not in the bill. With the exception of how we move forward, we've heard this all before. The American people have heard this all before.
GIBBS: No, I don't — I don't — I don't know that — I don't know that they've heard it in — in as big a forum, as clearly, directly from the president as they will tomorrow night.
TAPPER: How important is public opinion to the president's decision-making, when it comes to the war in Afghanistan?
GIBBS: Well, obviously I think he will — I think he will take into account the degree to which additional resources can be borne, not just by the public but also by those who are providing the resources. Obviously, there's been a tremendous strain on our military forces over the past several years. That will be taken into account. I think he'll take into account assessments by commanders on the ground in the region, as well as those at the Pentagon. So I think a number of factors will go into his assessment on where we are in Afghanistan and what our way forward is.