Jake Tapper and Karen Travers report:
A wonky discussion on insurance reform at the bipartisan health care reform summit was briefly replaced this afternoon by a tense exchange between President Obama and his 2008 GOP opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
McCain criticized the president’s bill and brought up the promise then-Sen. Obama made and did not keep to hold the previous year’s negotiations for the bill in front of C-SPAN cameras.
“Both of us during the campaign promised change in Washington,” McCain said. “In fact, eight times (as a candidate) you said that negotiations on health care reform would be broadcast on C-SPAN cameras. I'm glad that more than a year later they are, here. Unfortunately, this product was not produced in that fashion, it was produced behind closed doors.”
McCain continued saying the American people “want us to go back to the beginning. They want us not to do this kind of legislation. They want us to sit down together and do what’s best for all Americans, not just for some people who live in Florida or who happen to live in other favored states. They want a uniform treatment of all Americans.” He suggested “the special deals for the special interests and favored few” should be removed from the bill.
“Let me just make this point, John, because we’re not campaigning anymore,” the president said. “The election’s over.”
“I am reminded of that every day,” McCain said, forcing a smile.
“We can spend the remainder of the time with our respective talking points going back and forth,” the president continued. “We were supposed to be talking about insurance.”
Continued the president: “My concern is that if we do that we’re essentially back on Fox News or MSNBC on the split screen just arguing back and forth. So my hope would be we actually focus on the issues of how we actually get a bill done.”
- Jake Tapper and Karen Travers