Barack Obama threatens to withdraw support from wavering Democrats
Barack Obama has said he will not campaign for any Democratic congressmen who fails to support health care reform.
By Alex Spillius in Washington
Published: 6:44PM GMT 15 Mar 2010
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The president will refuse to make fund-raising visits during November elections to any district whose representative has not backed the bill.
A one-night presidential appearance can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds which would otherwise take months to accumulate through cold-calling by campaign volunteers.
Mr Obama's threat came as the year-long debate over his signature domestic policy entered its final week.
Mr Obama is personally telephoning congressmen who are still on the fence this week, in between several personal appearances devoted toward swinging public opinion.
Yesterday he visited Strongsville, Ohio, home of cancer patient Natoma Canfield, who wrote to the president she gave up her health insurance after it rose to $8,500 (£5,600) a year. Mr Obama repeatedly has cited the letter he received from the self-employed cleaning worker to illustrate the urgency of reform.
Though Congress has already ignored several deadlines set by the president, March 21 is being treated by all sides the final target date, at which time all options would have been exhausted. The president has postponed an overseas trip by three days to see reform through.
Apart from arm-twisting by the White House, an advertising blitz that could cost £20 million by the end of the week, about the same level of a presidential campaign, has been aimed at about 40 undecided Democrats in the House of Representatives.
Most are conservatives who are worried that their support would cost them their seat in November, as the bill has become unpopular with a majority of Americans.
Others are anti-abortion advocates concerned that the proposals would not do enough to prevent government funding of abortions.