Live From Washington

12.05.13

On ‘Hardball,’ Obama Touts HealthCare.gov, Dodges Clinton-Biden Talk

In a live talk with Chris Matthews, the president pushed young people to get insured, showed optimism about immigration reform, but refused to weigh in on a Clinton-Biden face-off.

In an interview tonight with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, President Barack Obama pushed for immigration reform and touted the fixes to the flawed HealthCare.gov website needed to implement his ambitious health-care overhaul.

Talking to Matthews for about an hour before a live audience at American University in Washington, D.C., Obama urged the young people attending to log on to the website while acknowledging why they might be skeptical. “I understand why people would have been resistant to goin’ on a website that wasn’t workin’ right” said Obama. “And fortunately, because of some very hard work, we’ve now got it to the point where for the vast majority of people, it’s workin’ well. And my message to young people is take a look for yourself.”

The president went on to explain why he believed it was important for young people to have health-care insurance while plugging the relative affordability of the plans. Sounding like a pitchman, Obama said “It’s probably gonna cost you less than your cellphone bill—or your cable bill, less than a hundred bucks.”

The president also blamed Tea Partiers, who he referred to obliquely as “a faction in the House Republican Party,” for the failure of efforts like immigration reform in Congress. Obama insisted a majority of the American people supported his efforts on the issue and viewed its prospects in the House positively. He told Matthews “I continue to be optimistic we’ll get it done.  And I think John Boehner is sincere about getting it done.”

“It’s probably gonna cost you less than your cellphone bill—or your cable bill, less than a hundred bucks.”

Obama also weighed on the 2016 horse race when Matthews asked him to compare and contrast the abilities of Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to succeed him. The president smilingly ducked the question, saying “Not a chance am I goin’ there.” He did take the opportunity to praise both Biden and Clinton, saying “Both Hillary and Joe would make outstanding presidents and possess the qualities that are needed to be outstanding presidents.”

Finally, Obama weighed in with his teleological view of the historical process, revealing a rather optimistic and Whiggish view. He told Matthews that “You recognize that you’re just part of a sweep of history. And your job really is to push the boulder up the hill a little bit before somebody else pushes it up a little further and and the task never stops of perfecting our union.”

The question for Obama moving forward, with issues like immigration reform and signups for HealthCare.gov, is whether he is able to keep on pushing that boulder up that hill.