President Obama Makes Impassioned Appeal Before Vote

Health care reform vote could come tonight in House.

ByABC News
November 7, 2009, 3:55 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2009— -- In a closed door meeting with House Democrats this morning, President Obama made an impassioned appeal for what he called "a big moment in history," urging passage of the health care reform bill.

"It's tempting to say, 'I'm tired, it's hard, I'm getting beat up back in the district, it's just not worth it,'" Obama said, according to a source in the meeting. "If we do not get it done this year, we will not get it done anytime soon."

The battles over the creation of Social Security and Medicare, he said, were also hard fought. Supporters of those bills, like supporters of this one, were attacked and called socialists.

The president also made an appeal based on political calculation, pointing to newly sworn-in Congressman Bill Owens, who was sitting in the front row. Owens won a surprise victory in the special election Tuesday in New York's 23rd Congressional district.

"Think about Bill Owens. He could have dodged it [health care], but he didn't," the president said. "And guess what, Bill is sitting right here."

He also warned House Democrats that Republicans will go after them even if they break ranks and vote against the Democratic health care overhaul.

"Do any of you expect the Republicans not to go after you if you vote against this bill?" he asked during the closed door session, according to a Democrat in the room.

At the end of his speech, Obama got a rousing ovation for saying, "I am absolutely confident that when I sign this bill in the Rose Garden, each and every one of you will be able to look back and say, 'This was my finest moment in politics.'"

Later in the Rose Garden, Obama repeated his message to Congress publicly.

"I reminded them that opportunities like this come around maybe once in a generation. Most public servants pass through their entire careers without a chance to make as important a difference in the lives of their constituents and the life of this country. This is their moment, this is our moment. ... This is our moment to deliver," he president said.