President Barack Obama fought back Monday against "scare tactics" aimed at derailing his drive to remake US health care, unleashing a battle-tested strategy adapted from his 2008 White House run.
Obama unveiled a new Internet site, www.whitehouse.gov/RealityCheck, inspired by his campaign's fightthesmears.com site, which countered rumors like the debunked but persistent claim that he was not born in the United States.
The move came as his Democratic allies alleged an orchestrated campaign of disinformation, including plots to disrupt lawmakers' "town hall" discussions on health care at home during the Congress's month-long August break.
"Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades," Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote in USA Today.
Their comments came one day after Republican Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, during an appearance on Fox News Channel, accused Democrats of trying "to demonize citizens who are energetic about this."
In an email message to supporters, senior White House adviser David Axelrod trumpeted the new site's "information and a number of online tools you can use to spread the truth among your family, friends and other social networks."
The website allows users to email every video and fact sheet, receive updates via social media like the Twitter micro-blogging site and Facebook, and tell the White House "what myths we should address next."
"Rumors and scare tactics have only increased as more people engage with the issue. Given a lot of the outrageous claims floating around, it's time to make sure everyone knows the facts about the security and stability you get with health insurance reform," said Axelrod.
In one video, Obama domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes takes aim at claims that the sweeping overhaul includes a plan to drive the elderly into forced euthanasia.
The video includes remarks by Republican Representative Virginia Foxx that the Democratic plan could "put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government" -- a charge frequently echoed among foes of the legislation.
From behind the desk of her West Wing office, Barnes directs viewers to the relevant section of the bill, says it would allow people to get advice on such issues as "living wills," and underlines there is "nothing mandatory."
The battle over health care was not expected to ease when lawmakers return in September, with Democrats battling to meet Obama's deadline of enacting an overhaul by the end of the year.
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