Top White House aides gave Senate Democrats a recess battle plan on Thursday, arming the lawmakers with tips for avoiding disastrous town hall meetings
while showing them polling on popular aspects of the reform effort.
They showed video clips of the confrontational town halls that have dominated the media coverage, and told senators to do more prep work than usual for their public meetings by making sure their own supporters turn out
, senators and aides said.
And they screened TV ads and reviewed the various campaigns by critics of the Democratic plan.
“If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard
,” Messina said, according to an official who attended the meeting.
The hourlong session was the last opportunity for Democratic leaders and the White House to prepare senators for what will be a crucial month in shaping public opinion on health care. With no final legislation to promote, senators have expressed concern
about dealing with questions and criticisms about the almost $1 trillion overhaul. The spate of confrontational town hall meetings have raised the stakes.
“They are just helping us understand the fringe that is trying to mess up our meetings,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).