'Make Them Filibuster': Gov. Rendell Tells President Obama, Democrats, to Play 'Hardball'

Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania has some advice for his fellow Democrats skittish about health care reform in the wake of the Republican upset in that Massachusetts special election.

“My message to those Democrats is don’t be afraid,” Rendell told ABC News. “Listen, you got elected because you wanted to do something to change the quality of people’s lives -- here we have a chance to do something historic and if it means some of us are going to lose because of that so be it. At least you will have lost your office fighting for something and accomplishing something.”

He tells his fellow Democrats in Washington, DC, to “get that best bill as strong and as tight as you can then send it back to the Senate and let’s see if they (Republicans) are going to filibuster.”

“Make them filibuster,” he told ABC News in an interview for Good Morning America this morning. “Make them go before America people. Make the American people look at a modern day spectacle of what a filibuster would entail. I think it’s time to call their bluff. I think it is too easy to throw up your hands and say, ‘We don’t have 60 votes.’ Remember its 51 votes for passage, they have to filibuster. Make them filibuster.”

The feisty Pennsylvania governor says Democrats “haven’t done a very good job explaining what we’re doing. We haven’t done a good job on how well the stimulus is working, and we surely haven’t done a good job explaining what’s in the health care reform bill and what is at stake for the American people.”

He wants President Obama to be more combative Wednesday night in his State of the Union address. “I want him to issue a call to arms,” he says. “Look if we’re going down, we the Democrats are going to go down in the 2010 election, and I am not sure we are but if we are let’s go down fighting for something we believe in let’s go down doing something. To me, it is a moral outrage that 47 million Americans don’t have health care and thousands more are losing it every day. Let’s get it done, let’s fight for them.”

President Obama has “a rare opportunity on Wednesday night to lead, to be strong, be aggressive, to chart out a course that is good for America.” He added that “a lot of us are waiting for him to join the fray and lead the fight. I think he’s done a good job but we haven’t communicated well.”

He says “I think we main reason we lost in New Jersey, the main reason we lost in Massachusetts was because our people didn’t come out and vote. Our people didn’t come out to vote because they don’t see us doing anything. They don’t see the change everyone promised manifesting itself in any way. So let’s do stuff.

“It is time to play a little bit of hardball,” he says.

-- jpt

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