Obama: 'This Has Been the Most Difficult Test for Me.'

TIME national political correspondent Karen Tumulty, who has been closely covering the health-care debate, sat down with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office to discuss the difficult task of piecing together health-care legislation.

Photograph by Sarah A. Friedman for TIME

President Barack Obama.

TIME: I thought I'd talk to you a little bit about the whole degree to which this is really a test of leadership. The fact is that no President has been able to pull off anything on this order of magnitude in 44 years [since Congress passed Medicare and Medicaid].
President Obama: Well, as you point out, the last time we did something of this magnitude was 1965. And the circumstances in some cases were similar — in some cases were profoundly different. Obviously LBJ had just won a landslide re-election and had huge majorities in the Senate and the House. We...

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