The White House is preparing a campaign to publicly defend President Obama's health care reforms just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court weighs arguments on its constitutionality -- a case that could redefine the scope of the 2012 election and mobilize voters on both sides.
Obama's health care overhaul both emboldened Democrats and enraged conservatives when it passed in 2010. And while its most controversial provision mandating health care coverage doesn't take effect until 2014, all of the Republicans seeking to challenge Obama in the fall are pledging to repeal the reforms before they can be implemented.
The Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments on the health care provisions between March 26 and 28, and Obama is working to remind voters that there are parts of the law that are popular, including a provision that allows parents to keep children on their own health care plans longer.
About 100 Obama supporters met at the White House last week to begin planning how to promote his initiative ahead of the court hearing, administration officials confirmed to The Washington Examiner, though they declined to identify the groups involved.
Obama clearly has much invested in the outcome of the case. If overturned, the president would lose his signature accomplishment just as he's trying to convince voters he has earned another four years.
Yet, some Democrats privately concede that the president could benefit even if the court reverses his policy.
"From a political perspective, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world," said one Democratic consultant. "It's not like he's scored all kinds of political points for it. It's one of the few issues -- other than complete and total fear about the GOP candidates -- that could mobilize our side beyond expectations."
As the court hearing nears, Obama's efforts to promote the reforms are guaranteed to be met with counterattacks from Republicans, who say the reforms are another example of the big-government overreach that was a hallmark of Obama's first term.
Already the United Methodist Church is expected to host a prayer vigil outside the court on the first day of arguments in support of Obama while Americans For Prosperity, sympathetic to Republican causes, will hold a competing rally nearby.
As part of its effort to promote Obama's plan, the White House will highlight some of the law's more popular provisions, including one that allows children under age 26 to remain on their parents' health care plans and another that prohibits insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
"This is making a real difference to families across this country as we speak," Obama said of the impending court challenge. "I am not willing to just refight the battles of the last [few] years. I'm not open to efforts that will take this law apart without considering the lives and the livelihoods that hang in the balance."