Obama Turns to Young Audience for Support

On Thursday morning at University of Maryland arena Obama addressed the students. He asked them to help him face the "defining struggle of this generation." While Obama's health-care overhaul is moving slowly through Congress absent Republican support, he turned to a solidly young, liberal audience.

"When you're young, I know this isn't always an issue that you have at the top of your mind. You think you're invincible. That's how I thought," Obama said at the university's Comcast Center.

Obama tailored his remarks to the student crowd, hoping to arm young people -- who are among the least likely to purchase health insurance but could form an important core of a new health-care system -- with new facts and enthusiasm in the debate. Obama declared that young people would be able to stay on their parents' insurance longer..

"I may not be the first president to take on health-care reform, but I'm determined to be the last," he said. "The good news is, we are now closer to reform than we have ever been," he said, estimating that there is about 80 percent agreement in the House and Senate. His brief mention of the plan put forward Wednesday by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) -- one of the few comments the White House has made on that proposal -- drew boos from the audience.

And he highlighted his administration's experiment with alternatives to medical malpractice lawsuits. The White House announced Thursday that it would provide $25 million in demonstration grants for such efforts. The issue is dear to many Republicans, and, if it were included in health-care overhaul, could help win some support from GOP lawmakers.

"I don't think this is a silver bullet, but I want to explore the idea," Obama said. "I'm going to seek common ground in the days ahead," The Washington Post r eports.

It was also reported, a University of Maryland arena built for cheering Terps basketball rocked instead Thursday to mentions of "the public option" and "pre-existing condition," as President Barack Obama sought to harness the energy of youthful supporters to push for health care change.

A largely student crowd of more than 12,000 raised an earsplitting roar when the president stepped onto the floor of the Comcast Center shortly before noon, coatless and with his sleeves rolled up. It was the first campus stop on Obama's campaign-style health care tour, and he tweaked his stump speech in an effort to make medical insurance relevant to a university audience.

The president compared the drive to overhaul the health care system to earlier fights for social change - and to his 2008 presidential candidacy - calling health insurance reform a "defining struggle of this generation."

At one point, Obama's remarks were interrupted by a protester who stood near the back of the arena and shouted until he was escorted out by security personnel. The man later identified himself as Andrew Beacham, 26, an associate of anti-abortion activist Randall Terry.

"I've heard a lot of Republicans say they want to kill Obamacare. Some may even raise money off it," he said. "But when you ask these folks what exactly my plan does, they've got it all wrong. When you ask them what their solution is, it amounts to the same old, same old - the same status quo that's given us higher costs and more uninsured, and less security than you've ever had," The Baltimore Sun reports.

Southwest News-Herald quoted Cong. Dan Lipinski as saying, “What I found most reassuring in Obama’s address, and what I think will be most important to my constituents, was his pledge not to sign a bill that ‘adds one more penny to the federal deficit.’”

“You think we need to stick to that but it will be hard,” said the congressman.

“The growing cost of health care not only impacts our national budget, it also puts great strain on the budgets of families and businesses, especially during these very difficult economic times,” Lipinski’s letter states. “It is essential that in addition to not adding to the federal debt, reform legislation should also rein in health care costs throughout the system."

“If we do this, individuals, businesses, and the federal government will all enjoy an easing of financial burdens,” Southwest News-Herald reports.

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