Obama’s domestic policy advisor not in DC, but in IA

Iowa-advisor Melody Barnes, the White House Domestic Policy Advisor, is in Iowa today.  She spoke this morning at an event at Des Moines University, then sat down for a "roundtable" with a handful of Iowa reporters.

As you may know, the president will appear at a prime time news conference tonight to talk about health care reform.  Barnes will miss it.  Her flight out of Iowa is late this afternoon; she'll be airborne.

Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson: "Are you, I guess, itching to get to your Blackberry.  I can't imagine what this is like to be in Iowa while everyone else is back in DC doing pregame. What has this day been like for you?"

Barnes: "Well, I was on my Blackberry at one a.m. last night. (laughter) I was back on my Blackberry at 6:30 this monring and in exchange with colleagues back at the White House, discussing this issue.  I mean, it is a constantly moving set of circumstances, but having worked in Washington, worked on the Hill for 10-plus years, it's very exciting.  You recognize that this is the moment where everyone is engaging and you're getting closer to getting something done and the faster we get something done, the faster we can see change and improvement for the American people and for the whole country. I mean, it will allow us to create the kind of security for families and individuals for the country  We've been teetering on the brink for so long."

Earlier, a question had been posed about tonight.

The Des Moines Register's Kathie Obradovich: "What's the main point that the president is going to want to get across in his news conference tonight?"

Barnes:  "I think several points. One, what he's trying to do with regard to health care costs and why that's so important. And I think, secondly, why it's important to move at the pace that he's articulated.  Some have characterized this as, you know, I guess: 'guns blazing,' you know, 'We're moving too quickly' — putting that in context.  Recognizing the debate that we've had around this issue for several decades; the specific debate we've had around principles and proposals over the last several months which builds on all the work that members of congress have been doing for years and why this is the time to get this done. So, I think it will be focused on costs and why what we're doing is so important and will help people sitting around their kitchen table; why it's important to businesses; why it's important to the industry; why it's important for our national fiscal well-being and why it's important to do this with — I won't say 'with all deliberate speed,' because that was slow – but why it's important to do it very, very quickly." 

"With all deliberate speed" is a reference to the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision.

UPDATE: Here's the Radio Iowa story. You can listen to the whole discussion with Barnes, as there's a 20 minute mp3 posted at the bottom of the story..

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.