In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Harkin: I Assumed--Wrongly--The White House Pushed Strongly For Public Option

Newscom / Scott J. Ferrell

(On this question, one of the Democratic party's leading public option skeptics, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) said, "That could happen, [but] there'd have to be 60 votes."

I asked Harkin if the outcome might have been different if the White House had ratcheted up the pressure on hold out senators.

"I don't know. It's hard to say. What ifs? If? I don't play that game, what if," Harkin demurred. "But all I know is where we are now and I see how we have to move ahead. We have to get this bill passed, and then we'll come back and revisit the public option at some year, the year after."

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at