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Obama tries to boost spirits of wary Democrats

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama sought to calm jittery Democrats yesterday as they prepared to head home to face voters, assuring them they're "on the right side of history" despite problems with the launch of his massive health care overhaul and an immigration fight with Republicans.

In back-to-back closed sessions with House and Senate Democrats, Obama delivered his message about economic prosperity and expanding the middle class.

But in return he was confronted with questions from Democrats nervous about implementation of the health care law as they look ahead to town hall meetings during the August recess -- and to midterm elections next year.

The meetings at the Capitol offered a rare chance for the party's rank and file to press the president about budget talks with Republicans, the next chairman of the Federal Reserve and local jobs projects, as well as to appeal to him for help in next year's campaigns. In a lighter moment, House Democrats presented Obama with a birthday cake. He turns 52 on Sunday.

The White House is seeking to keep up enthusiasm among Democrats following a rough start to Obama's second term.

He has gained an agreement in the Senate to get at least some long-blocked nominees confirmed, and the Senate has passed its version of immigration legislation. But the immigration overhaul faces an uncertain future in the GOP-led House, where many Republicans oppose a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.

Obama's landmark health care law continues to baffle many Americans, and the administration failed to assuage the public when it abruptly announced last month that it would delay a major provision requiring employers to provide coverage due to concerns about complexity.

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