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Nelson Proving a Difficult Sell

“If I seem reluctant, it’s because I think others are beginning to see how difficult it is to put together a program on the basis on what you want for government versus what it would require in terms of the technical nature of actuarial science,” he said. “At the end of the day, the numbers have to work or somebody is left holding the bag.”

Nelson said Tuesday that he could not even say how he is leaning at this time, given the uncertainties.

“Until everything is settled and you’ve got a clear view of what changes might be made and what may be there, it’s hard to say,” Nelson said when asked whether he felt he could be supportive of the final health care plan. “You can’t quantify in terms of percentages, whether I’m halfway there or things like that, because I’m continuing to try to work with the variety of issues with my colleagues to try to be at least a friend of the process.”

But he acknowledged that losing his abortion amendment “could” be the determinative factor.

“I don’t want to be stubborn and closed-minded [but] I have trouble imagining what [another compromise] would be, but there are other people with great imaginations and perhaps they’ll come up with something, but my goal is to get the Nelson-Hatch amendment passed,” Nelson said before the vote on his proposal.

Reid said Tuesday that he hopes Nelson would continue working on an abortion compromise.

“If in fact he doesn’t succeed, we’ll try something else,” Reid said.

But Democrats privately said they do not think Nelson will end up voting for the health care overhaul, and the likelihood of losing both Nelson’s and Lieberman’s votes is very real.

“I think we lose one of the two of them for sure,” said the senior Senate Democratic aide. “If I’m reading it right, we lose Nelson for sure, and there’s a greater than 50 percent chance we lose Lieberman, too.”

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