And at a February 16 briefing:
REPORTER: "Is [Social Security reform] a tougher sell than [the president] thought?"
McCLELLAN: "Well, I think that you have seen in the first term that there are -- you know, this is early in the process, first of all, so posturing is to be expected this early in the process ..."
Then, at a March 3 White House briefing:
REPORTER: "Do you think the public fully understands the problem with Social Security?"
McCLELLAN: "... I think the American people do understand the problems facing Social Security, but it's important to continue reaching out to them to talk about how those problems are only going to get worse over time .... this process is still in the early stages. He's only been on the road in a handful of states, or even less. So he's going to continue going out across the country, reaching out to the American people, talking about the problems facing Social Security ...
REPORTER: "... you have Senator Grassley now saying let's set aside the President's main priority, personal savings accounts (for Social Security and) instead focus on the solvency. And you have Senator Hagel, who is going to be out there proposing his own plan. What's going on?"And at yesterday's briefing?
McCLELLAN: "And just think, a few weeks ago, many people were denying that there was even a problem. Now everybody is talking about solutions. That's a positive sign. And this ball game is just getting underway. We haven't even had our chance to go to bat and step up to the plate."
REPORTER: "Scott, you said this morning the President is going to continue to meet with members of Congress on Social Security. Is he hearing from them what is showing up in the polls as recently as today in the ABC poll, that there is declining support for his private accounts proposal? ... What is that conversation like?"Yes, it's early, ladies and gentlemen. And it has remained "early" for the past five weeks.
McCLELLAN: "He is hearing from members about some of the survey results, the survey results that show that the American people recognize that there are serious problems facing Social Security. That is something that has come up in the discussions. We are still in the early stages of educating the American people about the challenges facing Social Security ..."