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Obama Confronts Critics (and Vice Versa) at GOP Retreat

Turns out that Barack Obama’s extemporaneous critique of the Supreme Court during his State of the Union speech Wednesday wasn’t the only such (apparently) unscripted moment he’d spend this week. On Friday, the president engaged in a frank exchange with Republican House members at a retreat in Baltimore, where he addressed some of the contentious issues of the last year, including health care reform. “You’d think this was some Bolshevik plot,” Obama told his audience in speaking of his health reform effort. “That’s how some of you guys presented this.” –KA

Click here to watch the full Q&A session following Obama’s speech in Baltimore.

Los Angeles Times:

“What happens is that you guys don’t have a lot of room to negotiate with me,” Obama said. “The fact of the matter is, many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable with your own base, with your own party, because what you’ve been telling your constituents is, ‘This guy’s doing all kinds of crazy stuff that’s going to destroy America.’ “

The event was notable for its departure from the norms of the American political process, resembling more the British tradition of a leader taking fire from members of the opposition party — and for the fact that it was broadcast nationally.

Like the audience on a daytime talk show, the GOP members held microphones and questioned Obama. The president answered from behind a podium, his image displayed on large TV screens. The exchange went for 90 minutes — longer than scheduled.

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