Liveblogging: A shout-out for McCain?

Obama credits his former opponent for one provision in the healthcare reform bill, in an attempt to look bipartisan

Published September 10, 2009 12:44AM (EDT)

President Obama is going out of his way to point out where his healthcare proposals dovetail with Republican ideas. He noted that the Bush administration considered -- but ultimately backed down from -- pilot programs to test medical malpractice reforms. He credited Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley for working with Ted Kennedy on various healthcare bills over the years. And in his most obvious bit of outreach to the GOP, he credited his 2008 opponent, John McCain, directly.

"For those Americans who can’t get insurance today because they have pre-existing medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin if you become seriously ill," Obama said. That coverage would take effect for the three or four years it would take for the rest of the reform bill to kick in. "This was a good idea when Senator John McCain proposed it in the campaign, it’s a good idea now, and we should embrace it."

The audience for that sort of stuff isn't sitting in the House chamber with Obama, though. They're watching at home, or they'll read about it tomorrow morning. GOP lawmakers aren't going to be persuaded to get on board with reform just because Obama borrowed some of their ideas, but moderate and independent voters -- and even some Republicans -- might view the plan as less partisna, and less divisive, if they realized it wasn't hatched in some Socialist lab buried under the White House. Obama doesn't actually need to be bipartisan here, given the Democratic margins in both the House and the Senate; he only needs voters to think he is. Being magnanimous toward his opposition is a good way to start.

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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