By Kathleen Hennessey
7:03 AM PST, December 3, 2013
WASHINGTON -- President Obama and his allies will try Tuesday to revive the stalled promotional campaign for the new health insurance marketplaces, aiming to boost enrollment before the Dec. 23 deadline.
Obama will kick off the push with a statement at the White House, where he'll be joined by people who have "personally benefited from the healthcare law," according to a White House official who required anonymity to discuss the president's message.
The stagecraft and messaging are the sort of event the White House had planned to put on repeatedly throughout the fall. But that effort was put on ice after the disastrous Oct. 1 launch of the chief portal for the new insurance plans -- www.HealthCare.gov.
The public-relations reboot comes two days after some administration officials declared the federal website was running smoothly for most users, meeting a self-imposed deadline for a self-defined goal.
But even as the administration claimed progress, the website failed to handle its target capacity on Monday, forcing users to get in line to begin the applications process.
Pressed by reporters, White House spokesman Jay Carney cautiously declined to declare the website repair effort "mission accomplished."
Still, the White House has little choice but to start promoting the site and the law's benefits. Consumers must enroll in a plan by Dec. 23 if they want coverage on Jan. 1.
The White House is also under intense pressure from congressional Democrats to begin rebutting attacks from Republicans who have sought to capitalize on the website's rocky roll-out.
"The president will discuss the ongoing work to strengthen the website and reach Americans seeking these new healthcare options," the official said.
"He will also focus attention back on the core principles of reform that have been lost in the attention on the website, and invoke the successes that are already flowing from the law and what it means for the millions of Americans who are already directly benefiting. And he will make clear what the cost of repealing the law would be for these middle-class families who have already begun to rely on these benefits."
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