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Snowe says Obama never gave her an open invite to health care summit

By Anne E. Kornblut
Forget trying to agree on health care. The White House and Sen. Olympia Snowe cannot even agree on whether she had a long-standing invitation to the Thursday summit.

On this much both sides agree: On Wednesday, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called Snowe (R-Maine) to invite her to the Blair House meeting with the president and lawmakers from both parties. She declined, saying she did not want to go around the established rules for including participants.

White House officials said President Obama had long ago told Snowe he wanted to include her in any public discussion about health care, and was trying to make good on that promise. When he saw that she was not on the list of members chosen by Republican leaders, he had Emanuel call to invite her, and did the same for Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Oregon).

But a top aide to Snowe disputed that account on Thursday. "The President never once in all their meetings or discussions ever told Senator Snowe she had an open invite to attend any future health care meetings," John Gentzel, Snowe's communications director, said.

"The first time they reached out to her about attending today's summit was yesterday morning at 10 a.m. when Rahm called her - 24 hours ahead of time," Gentzel said. "And if she had a standing invitation, why would they call to invite her? In fact, Senator Snowe talked to the President last Wednesday and he never mentioned the summit or health care. Sounds like they're trying to create some history."

Sounds like another sign that health care consensus is going to be hard to come by.

By By Anne E. Kornblut  |  February 25, 2010; 2:31 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Health Care  
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Next: Health care summit: Transcripts from every speaker


Why bother to invite senator Snowe. She never had the guts to go against the republican party leadership's blanket opposition of anything Obama wanted.

Posted by: simon7382 | February 27, 2010 2:48 AM | Report abuse

PS: You have to be 30 years old to be a senator, and 35 to be president. I guess this shows you can't legislate maturity.
Barb Bernhardt

Posted by: tughillb | February 26, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

If Olympia Snow is interested in attending the health care summit and she has been invited by the whitehouse, even if her invitation is on short notice then she should attend. If she feels she is interested in this issue and she has not gotten an invitation why not just pick up the phone and ask if she can attend. Good lord!

Posted by: OhMy | February 26, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Snowe:

Just go, already! You did not, I did too

It's enough to make you cry! We need to get the bill passed, not play childish games.

Barb Bernhardt

Posted by: tughillb | February 26, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I intend to write a personal letter to Senator Snowe, express my support for her previous actions that broke lock-step with the GOP, and express the hope that she will at least vote to allow the health reform bill to come to an up or down vote. Senator Snowe, History is calling again!

Posted by: PeggyB1 | February 26, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

if you are buying what jade_7243 is peddling, I have a deal for you.
There is a building with a big dome on it in D.C. I can sell you.

Posted by: jeffreyn1 | February 26, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it amazing how many legislators claim to speak for the "American" people? How is it that they're hearing messages that only support their party position. Why don't they just say "my constituents are saying "blah, blah, blah". I"m concerned when a senator from South Caroline claims to speak for the "American" people -- that would include me, a Californian ...NOT!

HEY, FridayKnight, can't you communicate without vulgarity - is your vocabulary so limited; didn't your mother teach you better than that, or were you raised in a barn with field animals?!?

Posted by: mskate | February 26, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't care what side anyone is on, I think our elected leaders (ahem)do not even have a clue. Forget healthcare and turn to create jobs. Why that's already been taken care of with the $15 billion jobs bill, didn't you know. A pittance compared to TARP and the Stimulus Bill that has done nothing. We need the healthcare bill to save Medicare ? or its going to go broke. Let me tell you its already broke, they know and do not want to deal with it. They have pushed it and Social Security aside because politically its the third rail. They don't really get it. Voters do not like and do not want the healthcare package but it will make no difference, because our great leaders have decided they know best and regardless what the majority says they are going to pass it. If they pass healthcare reform I think they need to then open up life insurance. Imagine all the people who cannot qualify for life insurance or its unaffordable because they smoke, are overweight or have other pre-existing conditions or they are older and the costs are prohibitive.

Posted by: tdressler | February 26, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

What a surprise!!! Obama and co. lying again? Trying to remake history?
The only thing that is consistent in this administration is the BS.
Forget healthcare, focus on jobs and the economy stupid!
This one-term socialist moron makes Jimmy Carter's administration look Good!

Posted by: brooklynborn1 | February 26, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

In fact, I think it's possible that Sen. Snowe asked Sen. McConnell not to invite her. After all, she could hardly sit with the partisan Republicans with whom she has many disagreements over several issues including healthcare reform.

But she couldn't sit with the Democrats either because she's not in total agreement with the Senate bill. So, despite the fact that she votes her own mind, she may have thought it best to watch from the sidelines, since she needs to protect her political GOP bona fides, despite the disagreements.

Posted by: bulldog6 | February 26, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

If what jade_7243 (February 25, 2010 9:56 PM) reports is true, if I were Senator Snowe, I would have graciously accepted President Obama's invitation and to punctuate the point, I would have sat with the Democrats.
If that scenario is not true, and Snowe was not invited by the White House, I would have stayed away.
If the former is true, Senator Snowe missed out on making a point that she has standing in this debate.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | February 26, 2010 1:44 AM | Report abuse

chrojo01, should you not consider the FACT that without help many small businesses, who would create jobs, can no longer afford to give their people health care, therefore, some more will be let go?
It is good for the economy (you must listen to what the GAO says about the bill) to pass this bill, good for Medicare (which will be bankrupt in seven years if nothing is done) and good for the people whithout health insurance.

Posted by: littlepaws | February 26, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse


The leadership on both sides of the aisle were told to invite their members, with a limit on the overall number.

Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid chose people who were intricately involved in the crafting of the House and Senate bills.

The Republicans used a different metric that left Snowe -- a member of the summer's Gang of Six, and of the Senate Finance committee -- behind. Probably punishment for her vote to move the Finance bill out of committee. (Republicans hold grudges against their own, you know.)

Rahm sought to right that wrong, but Snowe, being a bit testy... and probably not wanting to look too eager, turned down the President's personal invite.

Dumb move.

Go for the free lunch, stay for the debate.

Snowe and Collins coulda been contenders, they coulda been somebody. They coulda been something.

Posted by: jade_7243 | February 25, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Geez, Kornblut, why don't you just get over to Blair House and give Obama that blow job you have been aching to give him and dispense with this crap? Get yourself some knee pads and get on with it!

Posted by: FridayKnight | February 25, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama was just a little confused when someone asked if Snowe was coming Thursday for the summit?
After all the Snow DC got in the last two weeks,when asked,the president thouht they were talking about the weather,and not the senator!

Posted by: sdavis4 | February 25, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

So instead of Snowe, who was involved in the talks in the Senate for weeks, the Republicans bring McCain, who can only talk about the politics, not the substance of the legislation.

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse

It was a favor to McCain. McCain is trying to hold on to his Senate seat in just the GOP primary. Going to the summit "shows" he's still a player instead of an old has been left in the dust.

At one point I thought there was a small potential that Snowe would leave the GOP to become an independent. They certainly treat her like dirt in the GOP, but this little play tells me she's sticking with the old boys.

Posted by: James10 | February 25, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Who do you trust MORE the health insurance industry or your government? Poll


Posted by: usadblake | February 25, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Those who have been pimping for the drug and insurance industries for years are disappointed, scare, fearful that they may have to give up the insurance we pay for when the public finds that national health care is good for their health. Olympia, I suggest you get whatever work you need taken care of before you are no longer on the public tete.

Posted by: rpmcestmoicoxnet | February 25, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

This is just childish on Snowe's part. Pathetic. She received an invitation, who cares exactly how. Was her little ego bruised? She has to remember to be humble, given that she has had an inordinate amount of influence given she comes from a state with likely more moose than people. This is just irritating. I see people without health care and going broke, unable to get treatment (talk about rationing and death panels), unable to help children with disabilities. Outrageous! Typically Republican. When you can't win, try your best to ruin the other person, slander, slime and hate your way back to power. Utter lack of Jesus and utter lack of concern for the real suffering of millions. 44,000 or more die from lack of health care, at minimum, likely more. Premiums are sky rocketing. Stop it Snowe! Grow up.

Posted by: SKVAM1 | February 25, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree with comment #1 - if Snowe was omitted from the list of invitees, she could have agreed to attend when invited by the WH, even tho' her senate leader Mitch McConnell failed to include her on his list.

But I disagree with comment #2 - I also am watching the hearing, and I find the president thoughtful and fair in his dealings with the GOP senators. Unfortunately, it cannot be helped that his points of debate are more astute and intelligent than those of his opponents. True - different philosophies exist, one more humane and inclusive than the other, which accounts for a viewer's preference. In ant event, the differences will continue but I applaud the president for making the attempt and holding this meeting.

Posted by: jbleenyc | February 25, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Meow, Ann. When did you become the new "Gossip Girl"?

Posted by: harborrose | February 25, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I am remember that Newt suffered when he acted like a child because he had to ride towards the back of the plane. Now, he'd get applause. How pathetic.

Posted by: twstroud | February 25, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Please stop acting like children. If your name is not on a list and someone is provided the list and says, "Their name is not on the list provided to us let's call to make sure she's invited." You either come or you don't. She didn't want to come because it would have made her fellow Republicans look bad because they did not include her.

Posted by: rlj1 | February 25, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I've watched about half of this summit today, and it really represents the pitiful state this country is in. The House leader and the Senate leader's opening statements were unintelligible and poorly crafted. The two leaders made the Republicans look like they really did their homework concerning costs, coverage, and what this overall bill will do to undermine the rights of the people to determine what is best for them personally. If these government representatives devoted as much time to coming up with solutions to the lack of jobs being created or jobs that have been lost , the unemployment rate might actually go down. As an afterthought, Obama has come off today as dismissive and condescending, not to mention, disregarding the American people and the message they continue to send Washington through polls and the last elections that Republicans have won. Nov. 2010 come as fast as you can!

Posted by: jeiken | February 25, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Snowe is scared of the Tea Party crowd and wants to cover her tracks.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 25, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Olympia, Olympia.....Olympia what the hell is going on? What happened to you?

Posted by: october30 | February 25, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

They never intended on inviting Senator Snowe -- because they never intended this "summit" to be anything useful -- just a show!

Yes - Bush left DC in a state of imbalance and frustration. It's gotten worse over the past year. Obama has created a completely toxic environment in the government and nationwide by effectively starting the 2012 campaign the day after he was sworn in -- and putting his pre-set big ticket agenda items above private sector job growth and financial regulatory improvements.

President Obama needs to grow up -- he's acting like a complete d-bag.

Posted by: chrojo01 | February 25, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Geez, Kornblut, why don't you just get over to Blair House and give Obama that blow job you have been aching to give him and dispense with this crap?

Posted by: FridayKnight | February 25, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that the Republicans only saw fit to include ONE woman. At least the Democrats brought THREE.

Posted by: jmsbh | February 25, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

So instead of Snowe, who was involved in the talks in the Senate for weeks, the Republicans bring McCain, who can only talk about the politics, not the substance of the legislation.

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse | February 25, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I never thought Snowe would act like a junior high twit. She fully knew mitchie and crew weren't going to ask her to attend. She would be a voice of sanity and reason instead of the regurgitating the talking points and whining. She could have sat in boehner's seat since he isn't smart enough to bring nicotine lozenges or gum to meetings!

Posted by: ILDem | February 25, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

This is absolutely ridiculous. Senator Snowe seems to be wavering on how to shape up with the "Good Old Boys" in the Grand Old Party. She needs to face reality, consider and think of the people she represents on a daily basis and help pass health care reform that the President is fervently trying to pass. This is political posturing at its highest form. She needs to realize that regardless of the stand she takes, McConnell, Behner, Alexander and all the other "Nos" will never accept her as a true colleague because she is a woman and they feel there is no place for her in the Senate.

Posted by: Optimist1948 | February 25, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Snowe should go to the summit with Mr. and Mrs. Salahi.

Posted by: bk45 | February 25, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

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