President Obama challenged wavering members of his party on Monday not to give in to political fears about supporting health care legislation, asserting that the urgency of getting a bill through Congress should trump any concern about the consequences for Democrats in November.
In a high-octane appearance that harked back to his "yes we can" campaign days, Mr. Obama jettisoned the professorial demeanor that has cloaked many of his public pronouncements on the issue, instead making an emotional pitch for public support as he tries to push the legislation through a final series of votes in Congress in the next several weeks.
With the fate of his signature initiative on the line, and Republicans eager to portray Democrats as out of step with the country and incapable of governing, Mr. Obama seemed to relish the opportunity to cut loose and make his case on his terms, as he often has at pivotal moments.
And, with his back to the wall, the president appeared intent on reassuring his party that he was as confident as ever in his powers to explain, persuade and capture the politics of the moment.
Appearing before 1,800 students and other members of the public at Arcadia University, just outside Philadelphia, Mr. Obama cast himself almost as an outsider in Washington, expressing disdain for "the sport of politics" and saying the time for endless debates is over.
The Times blandly noted that "President Obama struck a populist tone, setting up the health insurance industry as his main target." There wasn't much of an opposing view on display, as the Times cited Obama at length railing against insurance companies. A sample:
Boiling down his proposal to a few sentences, Mr. Obama asked, "How many people would like a proposal that holds insurance companies more accountable? How many people would like to give Americans the same insurance choices that members of Congress get? And how many would like a proposal that brings down costs for everyone? That's our proposal."
Even when Cooper and Herszenhorn did stop for Republican opposition, the Times let Obama have the last word:
"We may be nearing the final act for this bill and the legislative process," the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said in a floor speech on Monday. "It's just the beginning for those who support it. Americans don't want this bill. They're telling us to start over. The only people who don't seem to be getting the message are Democrat leaders in Washington."
Mr. Obama scoffed at Mr. McConnell's warning.
"First of all, I generally wouldn't take advice about what's good for Democrats" from a Republican, Mr. Obama said to laughter in Pennsylvania. "But setting aside that, that's not the issue here. The issue here is not the politics of it."