As the White House struggles to garner support for Obamacare as it approaches Supreme Court arguments on the new health care law, the administration is not leaving anything to chance — not even forces from heaven above.
Yes, on Wednesday, White House officials reportedly called on dozens of nonprofit leaders to aid them in organizing a prayer vigil outside the court – right when justices plan to hear arguments for three days beginning March 26.
In a push that hopes to shape public opinion on the issue at the very center of the battle for the White House and Congress, advocates and officials set their strategy to win favor in motion. White House officials, however, deny they are trying to influence others or garner support by facilitating rallies outside the Supreme Court.
At the White House meeting on Wednesday, a wide range of advocates representing consumers and people with diseases and disabilities — as well as doctors and nurses, labor unions and religious organizations — discussed plans to bolster the landmark law, which is being challenged by 26 states as unconstitutional.
Supporters of the law plan to hold events outside the court on each day of oral argument. The events include speeches by people with medical problems who have benefited or could benefit from the law. In addition, supporters will arrange for radio hosts to interview health care advocates at a “radio row,” at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill.
People who attended the meeting on Wednesday said the speakers included Jennifer Palmieri, deputy communications director at the White House; Jon Carson, director of the president’s Office of Public Engagement; Jeanne M. Lambrew, deputy assistant to the president for health policy; and Mark B. Childress, a deputy chief of staff at the White House.
“The White House was very encouraging and supportive of our activities,” said Ronald F. Pollack, executive director of Families USA.
Pollack said the theme of the Supreme Court events would be, “Protect our health care, protect the law.”
Jennifer M. Ng’andu from the National Council of La Raza said White House officials stressed that the court case provided “a great opportunity to highlight benefits of the law for real people.”
A White House official who attended the session said that at least 100 people were present. According to the Times, more than 60 organizations sent representatives to the meeting.