In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Kucinich To Vote Yes On Health Care Reform--Here's Why

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Kucinich didn't discuss whether the White House had to twist his arm in any way. But he did note, in response to a question from TPMDC, that, after opposing most of the President's agenda--climate change legislation, financial regulatory reform, the budget--that he was prepared for an unkind welcome.

"I got an invitation to go on Air Force One--given my previous record in not supporting the administration on many things, I thought that proper attire would include a parachute," Kucinich joked.

But with health care, Kucinich said, more is at stake--including perhaps the country's ability to do anything.

"I left [our previous meeting] with a real sense of compassion for our president and what he's going through," Kucinich said. "We have to be compassionate towards those who are called upon to make decisions for this nation. It's not an easy burden that he has taken up."

"One of the things that has bothered me," Kucinich added, "has been the attempt to delegitimatize his presidency. That hurts the nation when that happens. He was elected...this is a defining moment for whether or not we'll have any opportunity to move off square one on the issue of health care.... I think it's important that--we have to be very careful that the potential of President Obama's presidency not be destroyed by this debate."

Kucinich insisted that he was given no assurance that Obama would push for a public option after the bill passes, and said that he was offered no favors in exchange for his support.

About The Author

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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 brian@talkingpointsmemo.com