Bait and Switch: Is Snowe Trying To Have It Both Ways On The Public Option?

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July 22, 2009 12:57 p.m.

If you were wondering how and why the weekend reports that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) had come out in support of a true public option had become so confused, I may have an answer for you.

I’ve obtained, from two separate sources, video from the Maine health care rally in question, during which a Snowe representative named Cheryl Lehman really does say what she was reported to have said–that Snowe supports a public option, which should be “available from day one.”

That rendering is a reformer catch phrase which basically means “no trigger mechanism.” But Snowe’s staff emailed me the full text of that statement today, and it contains an important qualifier. Snowe supports a public option, available on day one, “in any state where private plans fail to ensure guaranteed affordable coverage.”

But as you can see from the footage, that qualifier wasn’t appended to the statement Lehman read. It’s difficult to say whether the error was Lehman’s or Snowe’s, but at the very least it creates the appearance that Snowe’s telling her supporters in Maine one thing and her colleagues in Washington something else. I’ve sent the clip to Snowe’s staff, with a request for an explanation and will post any response they send along.

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