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Obama Up Against Ideology More than Specificity

Here comes Labor Day and with it, the return of Congress. It has the White House looking to shake up its strategy in order to get the president's health care plan enacted before year's end.

"The president is considering all of his options on how to advance the debate and get reform passed," said a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In recent weeks, the White House was taken aback by the ferocity of opposition to its health care plan as expressed to members of Congress of both parties during their town meetings last month with constituents.

To the extent there were any dog days of August, the dog turned out to be a pit bull.

And yesterday's CBS News poll provided the White House with stark new evidence that despite it's best efforts, 60 percent of those surveyed say President Obama has failed to clearly explain his plans for health care reform. Asked if they understand his ideas, 67 percent said "no, they're confusing." (Read more from the poll here)

But it's not for lack of trying. Our CBS News tally shows that Mr. Obama has given 27 speeches specifically on his health care objectives. Add in other remarks, events and statements in which he mentioned health care and the number soars to 119.

Mr. Obama is said by aides to be considering a big speech as early as next week to lay it on the line to Congress with more specificity about what he wants in a health care bill.

But an examination of his most recent speech on health care on August 20th, shows that he's been very specific about the provisions he wants in a health care bill.

Health Care Exchange: "We're going to have a marketplace where people can select the options that work best for them, the insurance plan that works best for them."

Government-run Health Insurance Option: "if we have a public option in there, that can help keep insurers honest; it can provide a benchmark for what an affordable basic plan should look like."

Pre-Existing Condition: " companies can't prevent you from getting health insurance because of a preexisting condition."

No Caps on Benefits: "There shouldn't be lifetime caps or yearly caps where you bump up against it and suddenly you've got huge out-of-pocket costs that drive you into bankruptcy."

No Loss of Coverage: "You should be able to keep your health insurance if you get sick or you lose your job or you change jobs."

Medicare: "We are going to make Medicare more efficient, guaranteeing today's seniors better benefits than they have right now."

Medicare Rx Coverage: "We're going to make sure that that doughnut hole in the middle of their prescription drug plan, that that doughnut hole is closed..."

Mr. Obama has been specific, though he left it to Congress to draft the legislative language implementing his objectives, and that's proved to be his problem.

And based on growing public opposition to his plan, the problem he's up against is more ideology than specificity. Special Report: Health Care

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here:
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