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August 25th, 2009
09:34 AM ET

Liberals' passion for public option

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/25/zelizer.democrats.obama/art.julian.zelizer.courtesy.jpg caption="Julian Zelizer says the public option is a clear concept that liberal backers of health care can rally around."]
Julian E. Zelizer
Special to CNN

President Obama was caught off guard by the frustration that liberals expressed at the suggestion he might drop the public option from health care reform.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that, "There's no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option."

The proposal for the government to offer Americans health insurance as one of their options had excited many Democrats.

But the White House insists that the public option was not central to its original plan. One senior adviser complained to the Washington Post, "I don't understand why the left of the left has decided that this is their Waterloo." Still, the administration responded to its critics and again expressed support for the public option.

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