President Barack Obama traveled across the country Thursday to promote the landmark health care reform plan he signed into law this week. His first stop was in Iowa City where he was met with support and opposition.
In May 2007, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama announced his plan for health care reform at the University of Iowa's medical school in Iowa City. "As president, I will sign a universal health care plan into law by the end of my first term in office," he said.
Almost three years later, now-President Obama returned to Iowa City. He spoke to an audience of more than 1,000 people as he came off a legislative victory that partially realized his goal.
"On Tuesday, after a year of debate and a century of trying, after so many of you shared your stories and your heartaches and your hopes, that promise was finally fulfilled. And today, health insurance reform is the law of the land," he said.
The president's visit drew support and opposition to the new plan.
Opponents of health care reform held a series of protests and rallies to coincide with the president's visit.
Kyle Hoefling is an Obama opponent and Republican
Iowa National Guard veteran Kyle Hoefling took off from work to join a rally the night before Mr. Obama's visit.
"I guess I've always thought that health care was a personal responsibility. And it just tears me up to see the solution that health care is expensive, so let's have somebody else pay for it," he said.
A goal of the rally was to gain support for local Republican candidates running in the November midterm elections.
A recent public opinion survey by Quinnipiac University shows that nearly half of all Americans say they disapprove of the new health care law, while 40 percent say they approve.
Alan Bohanan is an Obama supporter and Democrat
But Iowa Democrat Alan Bohanan says he does not think that the deeply divisive issue will lead to significant changes in the House of Representatives.
"It may cost one or two seats to be lost in tough districts, but I think once people really find out what this bill does and how good a job he's [i.e., President Obama] done and the Democrats have done, I think they may very well pick up some seats," he said.
Republican Kyle Hoefling disagrees. "I think there is going to be a price paid by anyone who voted for it or showed support for it," he said.
In his speech on Thursday, President Obama challenged those lawmakers who are campaigning to undo his signature domestic issue. "They're actually going to run on a platform of repeal in November. Well I say, 'Go for it,'" he said.
Obama supporter Alan Bohanan agrees with the president and says he does not think those efforts will win much support.
"Anybody who talks repeal of the health care reform at this point is asking to stop a lot of progress that should be done and is already in place," he said.
Opponents of the health care plan demonstrate in Iowa, 25 Mar 2010
Although they might be on opposite sides of the issue, Kyle Hoefling agrees that overturning the new law would be difficult. "There's been too many deals made and too many people see this as getting something for nothing," he said.
Iowa City is the first stop of many President Obama is expected to make in the coming months to promote the health care package. He says his fellow Democrats will win in November, if the American people better understand how they will benefit from the new health care reform law.