Video: In victory lap, Obama returns to Iowa

  1. Closed captioning of: In victory lap, Obama returns to Iowa

    >>> "nightly news" begins now.

    >>> good evening. while the white house continues to celebrate its largest-ever legislative victory, opponents of health care reform have reacted to the final vote with anger, a few with threats of violence. some republican law makers set out to repeal the bill. all of it or part of it, and today in something of a victory lap speech in iowa where it all started for him on the road to the white house , president obama dared the other side to repeal what he has just passed. it's where we begin tonight with white house correspondent savannah guthrie . good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, brian. this was the first road trip since the president signed the health care law , and the site of his first presidential victory was chosen to highlight campaign promise that was kept. returning to the state that launched his campaign --

    >> i've got to take off my jacket when i'm in iowa.

    >> reporter: -- the president made clear he's ready for the next one, republicans running against the new health care law .

    >> they're actually going to run on a platform of repeal in november. you've been hearing that. my attitude is, go for it.

    >> reporter: it was here in iowa city that candidate obama first unveiled his health care plan.

    >> we can do this. the climate is far different than it was the last time we tried this in the early '90s.

    >> reporter: today, campaigning again, this time to convince the country the law he signed will improve their lives. nbc's mike viqueira traveled with the president.

    >> the president spoke to a largely receptive crowd at the university of iowa , and still one man in the crowd kept shouting, "what about the public option?"

    >> that's not in it.

    >> why not?

    >> because we couldn't get it through congress. that's why. let's -- there is no need to shout, young man.

    >> reporter: from one disappointed supporter inside to passionate opponents outside.

    >> if it's so great, why does he keep having to try to convince people? the majority of americans don't want it.

    >> reporter: the president's challenge now, highlight reforms that will go into effect almost immediately while preparing the public that landmark change won't happen for years.

    >> health care costs won't go down overnight. not all the changes are going to be in place. there are still going to be aspects of the health care system that are very frustrating.

    >> reporter: so what's next? senior aides tell nbc news they are readying a massive education effort in the various government agencies so there is not mass confusion how this bill is implemented.

    >> savannah guthrie from the white house lawn tonight, thanks.

    >>> while the president was in

updated 3/25/2010 2:50:02 PM ET 2010-03-25T18:50:02

President Barack Obama dared Republicans to try to repeal his new health care law, telling them Thursday to "Go for it" and see how well they do with voters in November.

"Be my guest," Obama said in the first of many planned appearances to sell the revamp before fall congressional elections. "If they want to have that fight, we can have it. Because I don't believe the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat."

With emotions raw around the nation over this week's Democrats-only vote to approve the nearly $1 trillion redesign of the health care system, Obama took the opposition to task for "plenty of fear-mongering, plenty of overheated rhetoric."

"If you turn on the news, you'll see that those same folks are still shouting about how it's going to be the end of the world because this bill passed," said Obama, returning to the college town where, as a presidential candidate three years ago, he unveiled his plan to provide health care for all.

No Republican lawmakers voted for the 10-year, sweeping package that Obama signed Tuesday and will shape how almost every American will receive and pay for medical treatment. Many in the GOP are predicting it will prove devastating in November for the Democrats who voted for it.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the GOP won't give up "until this bill is repealed and replaced with common-sense ideas" that won't dismantle the current system and increase the debt.

Some Democratic lawmakers have faced threats and vandalism because of their votes. Obama didn't mention the incidents.

The president stressed the notion of a promise kept. As the crowd broke into a chant of "Yes we can!", Obama corrected them: "Yes we did!"

Video: Obama finds GOP get top-billing in bookstore Challenged by a young man in the audience who shouted several times, "What about the public option," a liberal-backed proposal for the creation of a government-sponsored plan to compete with private insurers, Obama said: "We couldn't get it through Congress."

"This legislation is not perfect, as you just heard," the president said. "But what this is, is a historic step to enshrine the principle that everybody gets health care coverage in this country, every single person."

Afterward, Obama visited Prairie Lights Books -- killing two birds with one stone. He had highlighted the store in his speech as a small business that has offered coverage to full-time employees for 20 years, but is struggling to continue to do so after its premiums rose last year by 35 percent. Obama also has frequently complained of his inability as president to do regular things -- like browse a bookstore.

The White House suggests it has the upper hand on the issue politically, arguing the GOP risks a voter backlash because a repeal would take away many benefits. Among them are tax credits for small businesses to provide health care to their workers and $250 rebates for seniors to help pay for their presciption medications.

Obama spoke as Democrats in Washington raced to complete the overhaul with a separate package of fixes to the main bill.

Senate leaders finished work Thursday on the fix-it legislation, already approved in the House. But Republican attempts to derail the bill resulted in minor changes, meaning the House must vote on it again before Obama can sign it. The House vote was expected by evening.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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