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Chicago reacts to Obama health speech

September 10, 2009 9:34:08 AM PDT
Local lawmakers towed the party line in response to President Barack Obama's health care address. Many political analysts said this was President Obama's last chance to gain momentum on healthcare reform. Out of 25 people ABC7 talked to at Union Station Thursday morning, only three watched the speech.

"I think everyone was going to have to sacrifice a little something. I think the public option is good because it gives people a choice of what they want to do for their health care," said Mary Flores.

Despite the president's address, the healthcare debate appears to remain a partisan issue as Democrats rallied around him and Republicans continued their criticism.

"The American people in August have decided that they don't like Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi's bill, and I think we need to make some major changes. The speech I heard tonight was like the 28 other healthcare speeches that the president has given," said Rep. Mark Kirk, (R) northern suburbs.

"We've got to get beyond this partisan bickering. We have to work together to come up with healthcare reform," said Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois.

As far as swaying public opinion, one poll found that Obama's speech may have done that. A CNN opinion research poll found that support for the president's plan surged to two-thirds of people polled from slightly more than half before his speech.

At DePaul University, a group of students who watched the president said they liked what he had to say.

"I think he did a pretty good job of taking control of the conversation again because, you know, I think the whole month of August it was all over the town hall meetings with a lot of bickering," said Edmund McDowell, DePaul University student. "I think a lot of people out there have hope for President Obama, and a lot of people are looking for this to work."

On Thursday morning, AARP members at Federal Plaza rallied in support of President Obama's health care reform plan and his speech. They say they believe the president squashed myths about so-called death panels and insurance being offered to immigrants. They are also collecting messages about health care reform and putting them into prescription bottles.

"Right now, I'm on severance. My job let me go," said Veronica Hrehor. "Come February, I will have no health insurance, none. Insurance companies want too much money. I'm a diabetic, high blood pressure, cancer survivor."

"The speech I thought was one of his most inspiring to date. I was very moved by the opinions he made," said Frances O'Kennard, AARP volunteer.


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