President, Quoting an Obamacare Critic, Mentions Fugitive Slave Act

By Susan Jones | September 27, 2013 | 7:16 AM EDT

President Barack Obama greets his audience in Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md., where he promoted the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

( - President Obama mocked "desperate" critics of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, subtly injecting race into the debate by mentioning the Fugitive Slave Act -- in Prince Georges County, Maryland, where the majority of the population is black.

"And the closer we get, the more desperate they get," Obama said of his critics. "Over the last few weeks, the rhetoric has just been cranked up to a place I've never seen before. One congressman said that Obamacare is the most dangerous piece of legislation ever passed -- ever, in the history of America, this is the most dangerous piece of legislation...

"You had a state representative somewhere say that it's as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act." (The audience gasped.)

"Think about that," Obama continued. "Affordable health care is worse than a law that lets slave owners get their runaway slaves back.

"I mean, these are quotes. I'm not making this stuff up. And here's one more that I've heard. I like this one. We have to -- and I'm quoting here, "We have to repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens." Now, I have to say, that one was from six months ago. I just want to point out we still have women, we still have children, we still have senior citizens.

"All this would be funny if it wasn't so crazy," Obama said.

He also asked Marylanders for help in getting people to sign up for the plan.

"So Maryland, I'm asking for your help. I need your help. We may have some very well-funded opponents. We may have some very talkative opponents. But you're going to be the best, most credible messengers to spread the word about this law and all the benefits that the American people stand to get and have earned. So tell your friends, tell your family, get covered, get on that website. Answer the questions of folks who don't know what this is all about, point them to Teach them how to use the website. Make sure they sign up. Let's help our fellow Americans get covered."

On the same day Obama spoke, Politico quoted a White House official as saying that Americans probably won’t flock to sign up for Obamacare coverage in October or even in November.

“October will be light for enrollment … November will be a little bit better,” White House communications adviser David Simas predicted. “December will be better than the previous month … probably a dropoff in January from December, the same thing in February with another increase in March right before enrollment ends.”