'Grab a Mop,' Obama Tells Health Care Overhaul Critics

The president lashes out at congressional opponents of health care overhaul.

ByMatthew Jaffe
October 16, 2009, 8:15 AM

Oct. 16, 2009— -- President Barack Obama Thursday night called out his critics in Congress for blasting Democratic attempts to overhaul health care without proposing solutions of their own.

"What I reject is when some folks sit on the sidelines and root for failure," he said at a fundraiser in San Francisco where he was joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

"I'm busy," he told the crowd. "Nancy's busy with her mop cleaning up somebody else's mess. We don't want somebody sitting back saying you're not holding the mop the right way.

"Why don't you grab a mop? Why don't you help clean up?

"You're not mopping fast enough," the president said, imitating his critics' comments.

"That's a socialist mop.

"Grab a mop!" he demanded. "Let's get to work."

Earlier in the event, in keeping with the housecleaning theme of his remarks, the president quoted Abraham Lincoln to describe the situation he inherited in January.

"It's a pretty mess you got me into, but I forgive you," he told his California supporters.

"That's how I feel about you. You're all forgiven."

Picking up on similar fiery comments he made at an event earlier in the day in New Orleans, the president warned his critics that despite the difficulties of his first nine months in office, he still has a lot of gas left in the tank.

"I want everybody to know who's standing in the way of progress, I'm not tired. I'm just getting started. You can throw whatever you want at me. Keep it coming.

"We're going to get this done. We're going to get health care done. We're going to get clean energy done. We're going to get climate change done. We're going to fix our schools. We're going to fix the problems internationally that I was elected to deal with."

In the coming weeks, the president predicted that the battle over health care is only going to heat up. He echoed a familiar refrain that the country is closer than ever to passing legislation and noted that five bills have been passed by various congressional committees.

"We're going to be going at it," he said.

"There are going to be some fierce arguments over the next couple of weeks about health care. There should be. This is big," the president said. "But understand that the bill that you least like of the five bills that got passed would all provide millions of people who don't have coverage coverage, would all prevent insurance companies from barring you from getting health insurance because of pre-existing conditions, would all set up an exchange for small businesses to compete and get the same deal that big businesses do for their employees, would all provide subsidies to people who have health insurance and give them a measure of security - all of them."

A Democratic source said the event was expected to raise $3 million. The sold-out event featured a dinner for $30,400 per couple, expected to attract 160 people. A reception with tickets priced between $500 and $1000 was expected to attract about 900 people.

Following Pelosi's introduction, the president joked about the California lawmaker, "Every day, she is subjected to constant criticism and griping; and then there's the other party ..."

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