Kucinich said he had spoken with President Obama on four different occasions about the need for health reform. On Monday, he joined the president on Air Force One en route to a stump speech in Strongsville, Ohio. “The president's visit to my district on Monday underscored the urgency of this moment,” he said. “In the past week, it has become clear that the vote on a final health bill will be very close.”
The congressman has been a gadfly to the administration on many occasions. A longtime progressive, Kucinich has been a vocal champion of single-payer healthcare and opposed the House's previous bill because it did not include a public insurance option or provisions to broaden states' rights to pursue one.
But he said conversations with Obama, House leaders and his wife, Elizabeth, helped cinch his “yes” vote.
Even while he expressed displeasure over the legislative process, Kucinich nevertheless said its passage is critical to the president's—and the party's—future.
“This is a defining moment for whether or not we have any opportunity to move off of square one on healthcare,” he said.
President Obama has spent most of the week pressing undecided House Democrats on the importance of the vote. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), another undecided who previously voted against the bill, also has spoken frequently with the president.
It is unclear what impact Kucinich's support will have on holdout votes. “Well if I can vote for this bill, there's not many people that shouldn't be able to support it,” he quipped.
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