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Obama urges compromise on health care reform. -

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ELEANOR HALL: In the United States the President is struggling to refine his message as he urges
Democrats and Republicans to save his health care package.

After meeting congressional Republicans last week today Barack Obama met Democrats and told them
that he'd made mistakes in his first year and that he was open to compromise on health.

In Washington Craig McMurtrie reports.

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: The Obama White House seems to be searching for the right tone to break the
legislative log jam in Washington. Yesterday the US President was connecting with middle America at
a town hall meeting in New Hampshire.

Today it was back inside the beltway and a meeting with congressional Democrats where he indicated
he wouldn't retreat.

BARACK OBAMA: I think the natural political instinct is to tread lightly, keep your head down and
to play it safe. For me it is constantly important to remind myself why I got into this business in
the first place.

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: On the one hand he's still attacking Republicans, his language showing that
there's little or no trust left.

BARACK OBAMA: I also made it clear that we'll call them out when they say they want to work with us
and we extend the hand and get a fist in return.

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: But at the same time he's also calling for Democrats to be more transparent and
for compromise on his stalled health care plan.

BARACK OBAMA: And I'm absolutely confident that if we do so in an open way, in a transparent way,
in a spirit that says to our political opponents that we welcome their ideas, we are open to
compromise.

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: A few days ago he tried a new approach to reach across the aisle, holding a
question and answer session on camera with disapproving Republicans who continue to insist they
have a more affordable way of providing health cover to America's uninsured.

BARACK OBAMA: Because I told them. I said, why would I want to get a bunch of lumps on my head
doing the hard thing if you've got the easy thing?

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: Some pundits have suggested he should pick a fight with his own side to win over
Republicans.

But there was no sign of that as Barack Obama acknowledged his mistakes in explaining the health
care changes, describing the process to push it through Congress as painful and messy.

BARACK OBAMA: We've got to I think get out of the echo chamber. That was a mistake that I think I
made last year, was just not getting out of here enough.

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: It all points to a President trying everything he knows to find a way through. The
health bill was his top priority when he arrived at the White House. He's been at pains to show he
isn't backing away from it.

BARACK OBAMA: So many of us campaigned on the idea that we were going to change this health care
system. So many of us looked people in the eye who had been denied because of a pre-existing
condition, or just didn't have health insurance at all, or small business owners in our communities
who told us their premiums had gone up 25 per cent or 30 per cent.

And we said we were going to change it. Well here we are. We've got to finish the job on health
care.

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: Republicans have even been invited to watch the Super Bowl at the White House, but
so far there's no sign of them relenting.

This is Craig McMurtrie in Washington for The World Today.