www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/blog/bs-md-srb-meet-the-press-20131202,0,6256900.story

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Stephanie Rawlings-Blake defends Obamacare on 'Meet the Press'

By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

December 2, 2013

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Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake defended President Obama's health care program Sunday as a panelist on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The panel included NBC journalists Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd and New York Times Columnist David Brooks. Todd introduced the segment talking about President Obama's recent setbacks, referring to 2013 as a "lost year" for the president.

"I think that's a bit of an overstatement, 'The lost year?' Focusing on trying to get more people affordable quality health care? In Baltimore, over 80,000 people are without health care." Rawlings-Blake said. "At the end of the day, everyone knows, we can all agree, the rollout could have been, should have been, better. But underneath all of that is Democrats and the president trying to make sure the people have health care."

Rawlings-Blake spoke as administration officials on Sunday said they had achieved their goal of getting HealthCare.gov operating smoothly but warned the website will need more fixes.

"In Congress, we have people that are standing on the sidelines, rooting for failure. We know that the rollout was botched. But Democrats are focused on trying to build and trying to fix it," she said during her first appearance on the news discussion show since 2010.

Rep. Christopher Van Hollen, a high-ranking Democratic who represents Maryland's eighth district, also appeared on the show defending the administration. But he acknowledged problems -- including ones in his home state.

"Maryland's a mess. There's no doubt about it," Van Hollen said of the Maryland-run health exchange, which has suffered from some of the same issues as the federal exchange.

After the health care debate, discussion turned toward foreign policy, including diplomatic moves to blunt Iran's nuclear program. Moderator David Gregory asked Rawlings-Blake whether she was concerned overseas concerns would have an impact on domestic policy.

"It really doesn't concern me, because, underneath all of that is, to me, the fact that Americans are war-weary," she said. "I think that was very clear in 2008, 2012. People want other options on the table. So, you know, what is your other option? You have to come up with something else. Because there's no tolerance for us to enter into another war."

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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