Democrats’ attempts to coordinate health-care message leave Republicans scratching their heads

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Jon Ward
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      Jon Ward

      Jon Ward covers the White House and national politics for The Daily Caller. He covered the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency and the first year of Barack Obama's presidency for The Washington Times. Prior to moving to national politics, Jon worked for the Times' city desk and bureaus in Virginia and Maryland, covering local news and politics, including the D.C. sniper shootings and subsequent trial, before moving to state politics in Maryland. He and his wife have two children and live on Capitol Hill. || <a href="mailto:jw@dailycaller.com">Email Jon</a>

President Obama’s attempt to press ahead with a comprehensive health-care bill on Monday prompted one reaction in Washington more than any other: confusion.

“I was actually surprised that they’re pushing it again. The most important thing is jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. We need to focus on jobs,” said Rep. Heath Shuler, North Carolina Democrat and a leader of the 54-member Blue Dog coalition of conservative Democrats.

Shuler, speaking to The Daily Caller on his way out of a meeting of the Democratic caucus on Monday evening at the Capitol, expressed the sentiment that is increasingly common in Washington, the reason so many are scratching their heads at Obama’s insistence on trying to pass a catch-all piece of legislation.

“I don’t think a comprehensive bill can pass,” he said.

“I hate to use a football analogy,” said the former Washington Redskins quarterback, “but first downs are a lot better than throwing the bomb route or the Hail Mary.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, gave a sharp rebuttal to Shuler’s remark.

“You know what? With all due respect to everyone, we just saw the president’s proposal today. I don’t know that anybody in our caucus is saying we’re not going to pass a bill,” she told The Daily Caller as she left the caucus meeting.

“We will pass a bill. We will pass a bill,” she said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, knocked down the idea that the president’s proposal represented a product that all Democrats were supporting unquestionably, undermining the White House argument that Republicans must unite behind one proposal before Thursday’s meeting at the White House.

“I’m not sure there is a ‘this bill.’ We have a bill. The Senate’s got a bill. The president has put a proposal on the floor. We’re going to talk on Thursday,” Hoyer said in an interview on his way out of the meeting.

Hoyer said Obama’s proposal “represents certainly a lot of things that we wanted to see changed in the Senate bill” but said he was “still concerned about affordability.”

“The president’s bill — he really doesn’t have a bill — but the proposal, we’ve got to see what the dollars are but certainly we think it moves in the right direction and improves upon what the Senate did,” Hoyer said.