ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Attacks: Obama Must ‘Intimidate Republicans’ With Speech

Former Democratic strategist turned journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared on Thursday’s Good Morning America to declare that President Obama’s address to Congress on September 9 must “intimidate Republicans a little bit.” Stephanopoulos, who was a top aide to Bill Clinton, added that the White House should force the GOP to “make sure they understand the consequences of failure.

The This Week host, who also worked on Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential campaign, didn’t explain why it’s the Republicans, in a Democrat-dominated Congress, who would suffer “the consequences of failure.” And the President “has to” intimidate the GOP? Is that the official advice of ABC analyst George Stephanopoulos? Or is that the opinion of liberal Democrat George Stephanopoulos?

Additionally, wouldn’t the consequences of failure be suffered by the conservative Blue Dog Democrats in the south who end up voting for government-run health care?

A transcript of the September 3 segment, which aired at 7:03am EDT, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: And for the bottom line, we turn now to Chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos. So, George, as Jake was saying, this is, really, pulling out the biggest stop the President has. The last time it happened, was 2001.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: 2001, after the 9/11 attacks. And, of course, that health care speech by Bill Clinton back in 1993. But, that speech was at the very beginning of the health care process. This is much more the beginning of the end game for President Obama. And as David Gergen said in Jake’s piece, right now, the President has to reassure the public, inspire and galvanize Democrats and, also, intimidate Republicans a little bit. Make sure they understand the consequences of failure.

SAWYER: A lot to get done one night, one speech. But, let me ask you, two-thirds of Americans say they are confused about the health care plan, understandably. And the President has given, by our calculation, 27 speeches already about it. What will be different?

STEPHANOPOULOS A lot will be different. The President is going to give more specifics than he’s ever given before. Basically, lay out the building blocks of a plan. It will include two or three important things. Number one, a requirement that every American buy health insurance with subsidies for the poorest Americans to help pay for them. Number two, the White House will look at these relatively popular insurance reforms. You can’t be denied insurance, if you have a pre-existing condition. You can’t lose it if you have a premium skyrocket if you get sit. And then, the big question is what to do with this big public health insurance option?

SAWYER: Caused so much turbulence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: White House recognizes it probably can’t get through the Senate. But, they also know there’s a lot of support for it in the House. So, what they’re working on is a plan, devised by Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican from Maine, Olympia Snowe And that would have this public option as a fallback, if the original reforms didn’t work to control cost, to get more coverage, you’d have this as a fall back. But there’s no guarantee that can fly, either.

SAWYER: So, in many places, ways, he’ll be speaking to hundreds of millions of people around the country. But also, one senator.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You got that exactly right. Not just the one Republican who looks like she might go for a deal right now, but also this group of about five to ten conservative Democratic senators in the Senate. And a group of about 40 to 50 conservatives in the House, who aren’t on board right now.

SAWYER: And timing, has to happen by the end of the year?

STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s right. They would like it to happen in October. But, realistically, Democrats and Republicans I talked to on the hill, say don’t be surprised if we’re here right around Christmas.

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