President Barack Obama is again traveling to the central U.S. to win support for his plan to reform the nation's health care system. While the president spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in Minnesota Saturday, a large crowd gathered in Washington, D.C. to protest his policies.
President Obama's rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota looked and sounded much like his election campaign rallies last year.
"Minnesota, are you fired up? Ready to go? Fired up! Ready to go! Fired up! Ready to go! They cannot stop us. Let's go get this done. Thank you everybody. God bless you," he said.
Mr. Obama went to the arena where John McCain accepted last year's Republican presidential nomination, and said the nation can no longer afford to play games with health care. He said a new U.S. Treasury Department report conveys the urgency of the problem.
"Nearly half of all Americans under 65 will lose their health coverage at some point over the next 10 years. More than one-third will go without coverage for longer than one year. We have got to do something," he said.
Earlier Saturday, in his weekly internet address, Mr. Obama said the country has had a long and important debate on health reform, but it is time to act.
"In the United States of America, no one should have to worry that they'll go without health insurance - not for one year, not for one month, not for one day. And once I sign my health reform plan into law - they will not," he said.
The White House and Congress are working to devise health care reform legislation that both Democrats and Republicans can accept.
But in the weekly Republican response, Senator John Cornyn of Texas criticized the cost of the president's $900 billion plan, which Mr. Obama had outlined in a Wednesday speech to a joint session of Congress.
"The president told us Wednesday night that, quote, 'There remain some significant details to be ironed out,' close quote. He was not kidding. The most significant detail is the cost of his plan and its impact on our long-term budget deficit," he said.
In Washington, meanwhile, demonstrators turned Mr. Obama's campaign slogan "Yes We Can" upside down, to say "No You Can't". Tens of thousands of people, angry about government spending, marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill for a day of rallies against the president's policies on the economy and health care.
Protester Sherri Melton, of North Carolina, said Mr. Obama's policies are leading the U.S. toward socialism.
"We are being pushed and shoved and thrown into socialism. And it is not just our health care, but if they get health care, they get every part of our lives," she said.
Robin Clayson came from Michigan to object to the president's health care plan.
"Maybe it would be nice if he [Obama] sees that he is working for the people, and he sees that the people are so drastically against a lot of his policies that maybe he might re-think it and say, 'Let's see what we can all work out together,'" Clayson said.
A series of conservative speakers addressed the crowd, including several Republican lawmakers. Many urged less government involvement in Americans' lives. Others wanted less taxpayer money spent on government programs. The rally was organized by several anti-Obama political groups.