Delayed trip = delayed vote?

DELAYED TRIP = DELAYED VOTE?…. President Obama was originally scheduled to leave for a week-long trip to Asia today. Last week, the White House pushed back the departure date, announcing that the president would instead leave on Sunday, after the House vote on health care reform.

Now, the trip may not happen until June.

President Obama has called off his trip to Australia and Indonesia, deeming it necessary to stay in Washington to push for passage of the health care legislation up for a vote later this weekend in the House.

In making the announcement, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said that Mr. Obama on Thursday was telephoning the leaders of the two countries to say he will be staying in Washington to nurse passage of what could be the signature issue of his presidency.

“The president greatly regrets the delay,” Mr. Gibbs said. “Passage of health insurance reform is of paramount importance and the president is determined to see this battle through.”

This isn’t too big a surprise. When the House vote was scheduled for Saturday, the White House saw Sunday as a reasonable departure date. But with CBO delays forcing the vote to Sunday, at the earliest, the president doesn’t want to be on a plane when he might need to do some last-minute arm-twisting.

I can’t help but wonder, though, if there’s more to it than this. I don’t know exactly what time Air Force One would have taken off, but the White House likely could have delayed the trip a few hours without any serious repercussions. Isn’t it possible the trip was pushed off to the summer in case Obama needed to also be around for a vote next week?

The search for 216 House Dems is still incredibly difficult, and nowhere near complete. While yesterday offered good news with a few key Dems signaling support, today offers bad news, with a few signaling opposition (despite the highly favorable CBO score).

If the votes are not in place on Sunday, the leadership will likely push off the vote. I wouldn’t be surprised if the decision to delay the president’s Asia trip was made to accommodate this possibility.