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Obama pushing health reform; stop on Guam unclear

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Hoping to see the passage of health care reform legislation through that may not have enough votes from Democrats, President Barack Obama has delayed next week's trip to Guam, Indonesia and Australia.  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed the president would not be leaving on March 18 as scheduled, but instead will leave on the 21st.   

The president had been scheduled to leave next Thursday to visit Guam and speak to military personnel, accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama and their children before going to Indonesia and Australia.  Gibbs said the first lady and the children will no longer accompany the president on the trip. Thursday is the deadline that the White House gave Congress to finish negotiations and pass a bill that has been opposed by the Republican minority. 

It's expected that President Obama will now make a final push to persuade House Democrats who have not yet decided on how they will vote on the health reform measure.  The White House has said the president will still make his trip to Indonesia and Australia, but it's unclear whether his delayed trip will still include a stop on Guam.  

Island residents and elected leaders were hopeful that Obama would make a stop to the territory and meet with them off-base to hear their concerns about the military buildup. 

The "We Are Guahan" organization even submitted an 11,000-signature petition to the White House this week in hopes the commander in chief would take time to meet with residents at a town hall meeting or somewhere outside the gates of Guam military installations.

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